Expecting a child is an exciting time, but for people prone to eczema it can also be quite anxious. You want to know how your eczema will be affected by the pregnancy, and you want to know if there is anything you can do to prevent your child from inheriting the condition.
Eczema is the most common skin condition during pregnancy and unfortunately it can also have an adverse effect on those with atopic eczema, with up to 50% of women suffering from worsening eczema symptoms during pregnancy. However, 25% of women with eczema find that pregnancy actually improves their symptoms.
Of those who suffer with pregnancy eczema, 60-80% experience it for the first time, with most symptoms occurring in the first 2 trimesters. Interestingly, studies have found that these women have some element of genetic predisposition to eczema, with a tendency towards sensitive, dry skin along with family members with atopic conditions such as eczema, asthma and allergies.
So why does pregnancy have this effect on eczema? It’s to do with changes in your immune system that suppress the immune response to lower the chance of your body rejecting the baby. A changed or lowered immune system might make you more susceptible to allergens, like environmental factors (pollen, dust mites), but also internal factors might play a part – stress or fatigue associated with being pregnant.
Research shows that if one parent has eczema there is a 1 in 4 chance that your baby will be susceptible. If both parents have eczema, there is a 1 in 2 chance that your baby could develop the condition in their lifetime. Although much is still to be researched and uncovered about eczema, some tips can help you during your pregnancy and might help your child as well later in life.
How to help your dry & eczema prone skin during pregnancy
- Turn down the heat – when showering, try and keep the temperature to a lukewarm degree. Hot water can dehydrate your skin, making it more itchy and prone to outbursts of eczema. Especially in areas known to have hard water, try and keep baths and showers short.
- Moisturise immediately after washing, ideally with products containing oils and extracts known to help the skin remain hydrated, like Castor Oil, Lavender Oil and Olive Oil. Salcura Natural Skin Therapy’s Bioskin range is perfect for this.
- Gentle exercise – whilst strenuous exercise may have a negative effect on hormones, gentle forms of exercise such as walking, yoga, tai chi and swimming are great hormone balancers. If you can exercise outside in nature, even better, as natural light stimulates the pituitary gland, known as the ‘master gland’ as it orchestrates correct release of certain hormones. Keeping your hormones balanced will help your skin and prevent flare ups.
- Follow your nose – much more than just sweet smelling scents, aromatherapy oils can help hormone balance by stimulating the endocrine glands to produce hormones, or acting as hormones themselves. Taking a relaxing bath with a few drops of essential oils like chamomile or lavender will help you relax and will nourish your skin. Essential oils should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy and used with caution under the guidance of an aromatherapist for the remainder, however a drop of spearmint oil inhaled from a tissue is considered a safe and effective way to relieve morning sickness.
- Cut down caffeine – coffee and caffeinated drinks can seriously disrupt hormone balance by raising cortisol levels and lowering thyroid levels. Matcha green tea is lower in caffeine but can still give you a boost, or try chamomile, dandelion or nettle.
- Manage stress levels – sustained stress creates high levels of stress hormone cortisol which lowers the immune system and can result in inflammation in the body. Stress during pregnancy can increase the risk of your child having eczema by 15% – another reason to book that pre-natal yoga class. Think of the things that make you smile – and spend more time doing them. Doing something to help someone else can take your mind off your own problems and make you feel happier at the same time.
- Wear comfortable clothes – ideally of natural fabrics like cotton and linen. Synthetic clothes and fabrics like wool might further aggravate your skin. Keep it comfortable with fairly loose-fitting clothes.
- Probiotics – initial research has shown that taking probiotics will strengthen your immune system during pregnancy and will potentially lower the risks of your child getting eczema later in life. But make sure to find probiotics suitable to take during pregnancy.
- Avoid harsh chemicals in your skincare – just to avoid any potential risks, keep an eye out for parabens (propyl, butyl, isopropyl, isobutyl), phthalates (synthetic fragrances indicated in the ingredient list as ‘Parfum’ and also avoid diethyl and dibutyl) and Diethanolamine DEA (diethanolamine, oleamide DEA, lauramide DEA and cocamide DEA). Try using natural skincare to stay hydrated like Salcura’s Bioskin range.
If you already have a child with eczema, read our recent blog about managing their condition.
Written by Martin Schiele, co-founder of Salcura Natural Skin Therapy
Martin Schiele Jr. now runs the London-based family business and the team continues to develop new and improved, all-natural skin care products. Staying true to his father’s philosophy of helping the skin with all the power nature has to offer in conjunction with the newest and highest tech preservatives and stabilisers, allowed him to create gentle yet effective natural formulations for dry skin conditions.