Birth Control, Eczema, and Skin Issues

More than 31 million Americans have eczema. Although hormonal birth control is known to trigger skin rashes, there is little research on how it affects eczema. Studies have shown that there might be an increased risk of eczema with hormonal birth control use.

This article looks at hormonal birth control and eczema, hormonal rashes, and treatment options.

A woman holding a pack of birth control pills

Isabel Pavia / Getty Images

Birth Control, Eczema, and Skin Issues

Although eczema isn’t an autoimmune disease, when the immune system is overactive, it can trigger inflammation and eczema flare-ups. Hormones are known to influence the body’s inflammatory process. Hormonal changes are known to play a role in eczema.

For example, women are more likely to experience worsening atopic dermatitis symptoms before their periods. An overactive immune system can also affect the skin’s barrier, leading to dry, cracked skin, which is a main symptom of eczema.

Hormonal Contraceptives

Hormonal birth control affects the body’s hormones and also impacts autoimmunity. A study found that hormonal contraceptives (such as birth control pills, Norplant, and vaginal rings) have profound effects on the immune system, and birth control users significantly increased the development of eczema.

The study also found that women who used Norplant, a progesterone-only contraceptive implant, were at significantly increased risk for eczema and several other skin conditions.

Another study found that birth control pill users were at an increased risk of being referred to a hospital for eczema or dermatitis. However, past birth control users were not at an increased risk of hospital referrals for eczema.

Birth control use has also been linked to dyshidrotic eczema, a condition more common in people with other forms of eczema and seasonal allergies like hay fever. Though the cause of dyshidrotic eczema is unknown, nickel, humid weather, and sweaty palms are some triggers.

Hormonal Rash vs. Eczema

The effects of estrogen and progestin in birth control cause hormonal rashes. Sometimes dyes or other ingredients in birth control can also cause a rash.

Rashes associated with hormonal birth control use include:

Eczema is different from hormonal skin rashes in that it is a complex condition with many causes and triggers that the medical community has not yet fully understood. Environmental factors, genetics, and having an overactive immune system are all believed to play a role. There are also many triggers for eczema flare-ups, including hormones, exposure to allergens or irritants, and stress.

What Is Progesterone Hypersensitivity?

Progesterone hypersensitivity is a condition that occurs when the body has an allergic reaction to its progesterone. This condition causes skin problems in women, including eczema and hives, which worsen three to 10 days before their period starts.

Treating Skin Issues While on Birth Control

If you're on hormonal birth control and have developed eczema, it's a good idea to keep track of any changes in your skin, along with any other symptoms. This can help determine if your condition is related to birth control or something else, like stress.

You can also manage itchy skin and other symptoms by avoiding triggers and using home remedies, including:

  • Using skin cleansers with low pH
  • Applying cold compresses
  • Taking an oatmeal or apple cider vinegar bath
  • Moisturizing frequently throughout the day with an ointment or cream that contains ceramides

If your eczema symptoms worsen or continue, it's time to see a healthcare provider. Discuss your symptoms and how they relate to your use of hormonal birth control. There are prescription medications that can help with eczema, and it's also possible they may suggest coming off birth control to see if your symptoms improve.


Birth control can affect hormones and the immune system, which can play a role in developing or worsening eczema. Eczema is different from hormonal skin rashes because it is a complex condition not entirely understood by healthcare providers. Though more research is needed to better understand the link between hormonal birth control and eczema, the few existing studies so far suggest hormonal birth control users are at an increased risk of developing eczema.

A Word From Verywell

Eczema is much more than a skin rash. It is a complex condition that can have painful physical and emotional symptoms and interfere with daily life. If you suffer from eczema that interferes with your routine, work, or sleep, it’s important to have a healthcare provider evaluate your condition. If your eczema might be connected to hormonal birth control use, keep a record of symptoms and mention it to your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does birth control trigger autoimmune reactions?

    It can. Studies have linked hormonal birth control use with an increased risk of several autoimmune conditions, including Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and interstitial cystitis.

  • Will birth control make dyshidrotic eczema worse?

    A hypersensitivity to something you come into contact with causes dyshidrotic eczema. Medications, including birth control pills, can trigger this hypersensitivity. Avoiding the cause of the sensitivity can help eliminate flare-ups. If you are hypersensitive to birth control, it could make dyshidrotic eczema worse.

  • How can you avoid eczema flares from birth control?

    Eczema flares can sometimes be managed by home remedies or by avoiding triggers. Prescription medications might also help. You can also discuss another method of birth control with your healthcare provider.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eczema Association. What is eczema?.

  2. National Eczema Association. Atopic dermatitis.

  3. Carvalho LA, Gerdes JM, Strell C, et al. Interplay between the endocrine system and immune cellsBioMed Research International. 2015;2015:e986742. doi:10.1155/2015/986742

  4. Dal Bello G, Maurelli M, Schena D, et al. Variations of symptoms of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis in relation to menstrual cycle. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2022;87(4):892-895. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2021.12.014

  5. Berdyshev E, Goleva E, Bronova I, et al. Lipid abnormalities in atopic skin are driven by type 2 cytokinesJCI Insight. 2018;3(4). doi:10.1172/jci.insight.98006

  6. Williams WV. Hormonal contraception and the development of autoimmunity: a review of the literature. The Linacre Quarterly. 2017 Aug;84(3):275-295. doi:10.1080/00243639.2017.1360065

  7. Vessey MP, Painter R, Powell J. Skin disorders in relation to oral contraception and other factors, including age, social class, smoking and body mass index. Findings in a large cohort study. Br J Dermatol. 2000 Oct;143(4):815-20. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2133.2000.03782.x

  8. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Eczema types: dyshidrotic eczema causes.

  9. DermNet. Oral contraceptives and the skin.

  10. National Eczema Association. Eczema causes and triggers.

  11. National Organization for Rare Disorders. Progestogen hypersensitivity.

  12. APDerm. How birth control affects the skin.

  13. National Eczema Association. How to stop itching.

By Cathy Nelson
Cathy Nelson has worked as a writer and editor covering health and wellness for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in print and online in numerous outlets, including the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News.