How to Navigate Postpartum Eczema - Gladskin

How to Navigate Postpartum Eczema

As a new mother, you’re juggling a lot — a crying baby, dirty diapers, frequent feedings, sleep schedules, and all your other day-to-day responsibilities. That makes managing itchy, inflamed skin from postpartum eczema even more challenging.

If you’re experiencing eczema after giving birth, it’s important to know you’re not alone. There’s a connection between eczema and hormones, which means atopic dermatitis during or after pregnancy isn’t rare.

To better navigate postpartum eczema and find some relief from the itch, we’re going to get to the bottom of what triggers postpartum eczema, when it goes away, and how to treat it.

What triggers postpartum eczema? 

Like with most cases of eczema, or atopic dermatitis, these itchy flare-ups can occur for a number of reasons. If you’re experiencing eczema after giving birth, it could be due to the following: 

1.  Changes to your hormones and immune system

During pregnancy, your estrogen production increases and your immune system shifts from a T1 response to a T2 in order to protect the fetus. 

This change in immune response is thought to be the primary factor in why some women experience eczema during pregnancy.

After giving birth, it takes time for your hormones and immune system to return to baseline. That means eczema that occurred during pregnancy can linger after your child's birth. 

2.  Stress

A crying baby and lack of sleep are the perfect recipe for increased stress levels. Not to mention, your body has just gone through a major event — birth. Give yourself grace in this postpartum season and practice stress management when possible. Research shows that eczema and stress can go hand in hand. 

3. Frequently washing your hands

Caring for a newborn involves lots of washing and cleaning. Diaper changes alone can cause you to wash your hands more often than you’re used to. Soaps, especially harsh soaps with fragrances and dyes, can severely dry out your skin and cause an eczema flare-up.

Tips for breastfeeding with nipple eczema

Nipple eczema can make breastfeeding a painful experience. Like with eczema on any other location of the body, avoid overwashing. If you’re using breast pads, change them frequently to avoid irritation from trapped moisture. Be sure to moisturize your nipples between feedings. If you’re using prescription creams on your nipples, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should wipe off any remaining residue before feeding your baby.

Nipple eczema doesn’t have to prevent you from breastfeeding your little one. If you find you’re in too much pain to continue nursing, visit a breastfeeding counselor or your healthcare provider for assistance.

Little things you can do to help manage postpartum eczema 

With minor lifestyle changes, you can help manage eczema symptoms and reduce the frequency of flare-ups.

1. Moisturize

Restoring the skin’s moisture levels can soothe dry, itchy skin. Apply moisturizer immediately after taking a bath or shower and throughout the day as needed. To avoid aggravating your sensitive skin, opt for a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer formulated with ingredients like squalane and ceramides that repair the skin barrier. 

2. Apply a cool compress

Eczema is an itchy condition, but scratching only makes things worse and puts you at a greater risk of infection. To find some relief from the nagging itch, you can apply a cool compress. 

To make a cool compress, run a washcloth under cool water until thoroughly soaked through. Wring out the excess water and apply the compress to your eczema patches. Repeat this process throughout the day as needed.

3. Practice stress management

While having a newborn comes with a certain amount of unavoidable stress, it’s important as a new mother to help reduce your stress levels when possible. Making time for self-care is healthy for you and your little one.

To help lower your cortisol levels and minimize stress-induced eczema flare-ups, try:

  • Going outside for a walk and getting fresh air
  • Practicing meditation
  • Journaling your emotions and experiences as a new mom
  • Laughing, hugging, and talking with loved ones
  • Sharing your feelings with a licensed professional

4. Visit your doctor

If your postpartum eczema is uncomfortable, interfering with daily life, or isn't getting better, visit your primary healthcare provider or a board-certified dermatologist, who can offer a personalized treatment plan based on your unique skin. They’ll be able to prescribe necessary medications and help you determine what’s safe for you and your baby if you’re breastfeeding.

When does postpartum eczema go away?

When hormonal eczema after pregnancy goes away varies for each individual. For some, postpartum eczema will clear as their hormones stabilize. For others, eczema can linger longer. However, with proper treatment, you can manage your eczema and help minimize flare-ups.

Will my baby develop eczema? 

Eczema isn’t contagious, so your baby won’t develop eczema by coming into contact with your skin. You might also be wondering “Can breastfeeding trigger eczema?”. The answer is no, your nursing baby won’t contract eczema from your breastmilk.

However, genetics are a risk factor for eczema, meaning your baby is more likely to develop the skin condition when it runs in the family. If your child does develop atopic dermatitis, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist to develop a treatment plan and check out our Guide to Baby Eczema.

According to the National Eczema Society, when neither parents or any other children in the immediate family have eczema, asthma, or hay fever, a baby’s chances of developing eczema are 1 in 10. When one of the parents has eczema, asthma, or hay fever, the chances are 1 in 4. When both parents or other children in the family have eczema, asthma, or hay fever, the chances are 1 in 2.

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Gladskin Eczema Cream is clinically proven to reduce eczema symptoms, including itch and redness. It contains Micreobalance®, Gladskin’s patented endolysin that balances your skin’s microbiome. Gladskin Eczema Cream is minimally formulated, steroid-free, and safe for everyone ages 3 months and up. Learn more.

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