What to Know About Eczema and Pregnancy

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While the chronic skin disorder eczema has been associated with impaired fertility, the exact mechanisms are unknown and more research needs to be done. Eczema does not pose any danger to a pregnancy, but it’s important to ensure the condition is managed to reduce stress and discomfort.

This article will discuss the connection between eczema and fertility and how the condition may affect a person during pregnancy and postpartum.

Pregnant person applying moisturizer for eczema

Zach Wolfe / Getty Images

Eczema and Fertility

An association between eczema and infertility has been observed. Infertility is when you don’t get pregnant through consistent unprotected intercourse after 12 months of trying.

People with eczema have been found to have fewer children than those without eczema, and it is thought that shared skin factors, as well as immunologic factors, play a role in possible impaired fertility in those with eczema.

One of the main theories involves problems with the natural skin barrier. Claudins are essential membrane proteins found in various organs. They are also thought to play different roles in the menstrual cycle and are found in the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).

The skin of people with eczema has lower amounts of the claudin-1 protein than the skin of people without eczema. Abnormal claudin function and expression have also been found in people with infertility.

Eczema is associated with having allergies. People with allergic conditions have also been found to have more irregular menstruation and a longer time to pregnancy when trying to conceive.

More research is needed to explore this further and establish definitive links and associations between eczema, allergic skin disorders, and possible fertility issues. If you are concerned about this or plan to conceive in the future, talk with a healthcare provider.

Adult-Onset Eczema

About 1 in 10 people in the United States live with eczema. While the prevalence peaks in early childhood, 1 in 4 adults with eczema report adult-onset eczema. Its main symptom is irritated and inflamed skin, which can become very itchy and uncomfortable.

Eczema and Gestation

If you have eczema, you may wonder how it might affect your pregnancy. Knowing more about a possible connection can help ease your mind and help you with treatment decisions.


There are generally no risks to the pregnancy if you have eczema. It is perfectly fine to get pregnant if you have a history of eczema.

For some people, eczema may even improve during pregnancy, but other people find their eczema gets worse or they get it for the first time. About half of all people with a history of preexisting eczema will have it worsen during pregnancy. Sex hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, are thought to play a role in eczema.


If you were managing eczema before your pregnancy, continue to see your primary care provider or dermatologist (medical specialist of skin conditions) and follow your treatment plan as prescribed.

While you might want to use “natural” treatments, talk with a healthcare provider first, as these often have ingredients that irritate your skin instead of soothing it.

Common treatments for eczema in pregnancy are:

Topical steroids are considered safe for use in pregnancy. However, there is an association between higher doses of very potent topical corticosteroids and low birth weight. Talk with a healthcare provider about the use of these medications.

Other measures you can take to help minimize symptoms include:

  • Consistent and increased moisturizing of the skin and perhaps switching to an oilier emollient cream
  • Taking shorter showers with water that isn’t very hot to avoid drying out the skin
  • Using soap-free products, if possible

If you have any questions about your treatment, bring your questions and concerns to a healthcare provider. Also, let them know if you plan to breastfeed.

Concerning Symptoms

If your existing eczema treatment is not helping your condition, tell a healthcare provider as soon as possible. There may be other treatment options, and you do not have to suffer from symptoms.

More than half (55%) of adults with moderate to severe eczema report that they don’t feel their condition is well controlled. This is not beneficial to your quality of life.

If eczema is not controlled during pregnancy, it can lead to increased stress or sleep deprivation due to itching or pain. Neither is helpful or healthy for pregnancy.

Prevalence of Eczema Diagnosis During Pregnancy

Eczema, often referred to as atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common skin disease during pregnancy. It makes up 36% to 59% of skin conditions during pregnancy. Eczema can occur in pregnancy because of hormones (mainly estrogen) causing changes in the immune system.

Eczema and Postpartum

For some people, eczema can continue or even flare up after giving birth. Washing and cleaning the baby and your hands more often at this time can cause a reaction.

You might get genital eczema if you had a vaginal delivery. If you had a cesarean delivery, you might need to take extra care of your incision to minimize the itch and irritation. Talk with a healthcare provider about the best ways to treat your eczema in these areas to avoid infection and keep the areas moisturized.

Consistent treatment is important to keep symptoms under control. Even if your eczema is improving, keep following your treatment plan to keep your skin moisturized and healthy and reduce the risk of worsening symptoms.


While eczema is a skin condition, it can be exacerbated by pregnancy because of hormone fluctuations. Flare-ups can occur, causing discomfort, emotional distress, and sleep deprivation. There are treatments available, and both home remedies and prescription treatments can help reduce and manage symptoms.

Sometimes the condition can also get worse postpartum. Talk with a healthcare provider about your treatment plan, what is and isn’t working, and how to keep your symptoms consistently managed to reduce the risk of flare-ups.

A Word From Verywell

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time already, and if you are also dealing with a chronic condition that causes discomfort, like eczema, it can be especially so. Let a healthcare provider know if your eczema is flaring up, and if it is causing distress.

Treating eczema can help improve your quality of life and reduce some discomfort. If you need emotional support, pregnancy and postpartum support groups are available.

11 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.
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