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Eczema During Pregnancy

Ashley Fraxedas

19w5d- Has anyone else had to use a steroid cream during pregnancy? I’m freaking out.

I was born with eczema and struggled with it on and off my entire life. (I could seriously write a book about it.) Normally, I know how to keep it at bay. But wow. The second I got pregnant, my eczema came on with a vengeance. I’d always heard that these types of disorders actually disappear during pregnancy. Apparently my skin didn’t get that e-mail.

For weeks, I fought going to the doctor because I knew exactly what they would do — prescribe a topical steroid. I was determined to not use any medicine while pregnant. I was determined that for 9 months, I could naturally fight off whatever came to me. But there came a point where I literally couldn’t function. I couldn’t get out off bed, couldn’t get dressed for work and had to keep ice packs on my entire body. I even had to wrap my hands every night so I didn’t scratch myself until I bled without knowing it while sleeping. I finally dragged myself into the doctor, only to be greeted by the nurse saying, “Have you been to the emergency room yet?” Not a good sign.

I sat and poured my heart out to my doctor for 20 minutes. I told him how I didn’t want to use any medicine and how I wanted a natural approach to beat this. My doctor was extremely sweet and empathetic. But ultimately, he said that if I didn’t use a topical steroid, I’d end up with an infection, antibiotics and an oral steroid later. He assured me that the cream was fine. So I started using the cream at about 11½ weeks pregnant, just a few days short of my second trimester.

Of course, I immediately ran home to do my own research. I found that they just don’t know anything about topical steroids during pregnancy and they’ve only tested the creams on small rodents. Great.

Even though I trust my doctor very much, I called every doctor, nurse and dermatologist that I’d ever seen to get his or her opinion. They all said the same thing: This is how my body is reacting to pregnancy hormones and the steroid cream was fine. “It’s topical. Only a very small percentage gets absorbed. It’s more common than you think.” But I still have so much anxiety about using any medicine during pregnancy.

I felt especially alone with this problem when talking to other moms about their pregnancies. No one had experienced anything like this. Everyone has morning sickness, sciatica, heartburn, etc. No one had eczema. No one had to use any medicine, not even a Tylenol. Even online message boards didn’t lead me to anyone in my same position. Some women talked about having outbreaks of eczema, but it could be treated with Cetaphil, Eucerin or other light creams. Unfortunately, I had tried everything and the only thing working is a prescription cream.

Since using the cream, I feel like myself again… usually. I have to use the cream about once every three days when I have a bad outbreak. I use such a teeny tiny amount that I know it’s fine. But when it comes to being pregnant for the first time, us moms worry ourselves to death over everything. As my wonderful doctor said, “You moms are crazy.”

Has anyone else had a terrible outbreak of eczema (or some other skin disorder) that forced you to use a steroid cream? Or, has your body reacted in a way that forced you to use a medicine you weren’t expecting? Maybe someone's personal experience can bring comfort to me and others. Or, better yet, maybe my experience will comfort someone else dealing with this issue.