Surviving the ‘Itchy Nipple’ Phase
Even before I had any idea that I was pregnant, my eczema had clued onto it. It was like the most highly sensitive, early pregnancy test.
Thinking back on it, if I had understood the correlation I could have saved money on pregnancy tests. Additionally, I could have known at least 2 weeks before they would give me a result! If I could bottle it and sell its magical pregnancy indicating qualities (minus that actual eczema), I could give Clear Blue a good run for their money!
Before my first pregnancy, I hadn’t had any eczema flare ups since childhood, then, once I was knocked up, low and behold one cropped up!
Eczema usually gets better during pregnancy
I remember going to the GP’s office and listening to him telling me that they usually expect eczema to get better during pregnancy whilst simultaneously telling me that the awful looking rash that had taken over my left hand was in fact eczema.
I did think that this was a slightly odd way of explaining things to me, but I decided not to say anything.
All he had to offer me by way of treatment was an industrial sized tub of Aveno. As soothing and moisturising as it is, it does nothing much to solve the problem.
The only bonus of the whole situation was the fact that he could prescribe the huge quantity of premium moisturiser to me. This coupled with my Maternity Exemption Certificate made for some free Aveno. For those who know how much this particular brand usually costs, you will be able to confirm the saving this resulted in. Unfortunately, even the huge savings couldn’t make me feel any better.
So What Causes Eczema During Pregnancy?
There are several theories, but plainly, no one really knows!
It could be something to do with a slightly compromised or overactive immune system during pregnancy, or it could be something totally different!
There just isn’t any one conclusive answer or theory about eczema for any one in any stage of their lives. What causes it for one person might heal it for another and what cures it for one might cause a rapid decline for others. Have a quick google of ‘E45 for eczema’ and you will see what I’m talking about!
Does Pregnancy Induced Eczema Go Away?
Did you know that eczema during pregnancy is the most common skin condition that occurs during pregnancy? Maybe, maybe not – I didn’t have a clue!
The general consensus on whether or not any pregnancy related eczema will disappear after baby is born or not, is:
‘It depends on how lucky you are!’
It seems to be a complete game of chance as to whether your symptoms will pass with the passing of your final trimester. Some ladies eczema will disappear as abruptly as it appeared, others will fade once they finish breastfeeding, and others will get stuck with it forever more.
Unfortunately for me, the eczema that appeared during my first pregnancy didn’t go anywhere. It made its mystical appearance and then decided to stay.
It was only during this, current, pregnancy that I managed to figure out how to manage it, to a point where you can barely see it at the moment.
Can Pregnancy Make Eczema worse?
Again the answer to this one is dependent on the hand that luck decides to deal you!
Some ladies who have suffered eczema before pregnancy will see their symptoms disappear during pregnancy. Others will see their symptoms get worse. Other ladies, who have never had eczema before, will suddenly find themselves covered in it!
Although I didn’t realise it at the time, my existing eczema got worse pretty much as soon as baby number two was conceived.
My hand, wrist and arm became completely covered and my ‘random patches’ (as I call them) up and down my arms and legs, grew in intensity and diameter.
Introducing the itchy nipple!
Additionally, to my ‘delight’ a new patch of eczema appeared, ON MY LEFT NIPPLE!
Of all the places on my body for it to appear, my system had to choose there. It’s not exactly a place that you can discretely have a good scratch, which made life very tricky as it was SO VERY ITCHY ALL THE GOD DAMN TIME!
For a long time, I didn’t realise it was eczema as it didn’t come up in its tell-tale rash. My nipple just itched like crazy and peeled like mad. It also split and bled if I wasn’t extra careful to itch super gently or dry very delicately after bathing.
It was only after some thought that it clicked as to what it was and why it was so different from all the rest. I realised it was because the skin forming the areola and nipple is so completely different from the rest of your body. Why would eczema show the same then? Of course it doesn’t!
So off I toddled back to the doctors to have things checked out.
The Nurse Practitioner that I saw was pretty horrified that I hadn’t seen anyone for any treatment for my skin since the Aveno incident. It was almost five years ago, during my last pregnancy.
She wasn’t very interested in my itchy nipple, which was my main concern! She was more shocked that it had a hole through the middle of it from a piercing, long since removed!
After some humming, debating, medicine suitability checking and finally several additional ‘viewings’ by other GP’s; she sent me on my way with some steroid cream and antibacterial moisturisers on the promise that if nothing got better I was to go straight back.
Of course, nothing got better and I didn’t go back.
So How am I Managing My Eczema During Pregnancy?
Easily, simply, and naturally.
Not one lotion or potion I have ever been prescribed has seemed to even make the smallest of dents in my eczema. After seeing all the ‘not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding’ labels all over the over the counter and prescription creams and ointments, out they all went.
Random bit of backstory here; I was once in a relationship with a guy who had one of the worst cases of eczema in the UK. When his skin was good he was OK, but when it was bad, it was awful.
I remember some bad days I would have to hold him down and cover his whole body in tubs of paraffin cream to stop him tearing what was left of his tattered skin off. It was not nice to witness and obviously simply horrendous to endure.
He was taking a potent mix of pain killers, steroids and immunosuppressant’s; the drugs they give you to stop you rejecting a foreign organ following a transplant! Along with a whole variety of creams and lotions. His skin was so thin from topical steroid use that these were no longer an option.
Nothing would manage his condition
Nothing seemed to work. The only time his skin was ever in a good (ish) state was in the Summer. The mix of the sunshine and sea water (spending a lot of time on and in the sea) seemed to help to no end.
Thinking back on this, gave me my inspiration to find my own natural solutions for my own eczema.
Naturally does it!
I have been using the below natural remedies to treat my eczema for the past couple of months and I have been simply amazed by the results.
My skin has not been in this good shape in five years and it’s SO well received!
My ‘random patches’ on my legs, arms and torso have completely cleared up. Its amazing as it is still winter and my skin is usually as its worst.
My eczema on my hand has receded from my wrist and palm to an almost invisible patch on the back on my hand. I have only had one or two new blisters appear on my hand and they have gone down without bursting – AMAZING!
I wish I had a ‘before’ picture so that I could show the difference in comparison to the ‘after’. Unfortunately I never really had any sort of desire to visually record the state of my poor skin! You will just have to trust me on this one!
Give them a go if you are suffering eczema during pregnancy or indeed at any time in your life – you won’t be disappointed!
Natural Remedies for Eczema During Pregnancy
Put Salt Water in your Bath.
I mean like a lot.
Every time you run yourself a bath chuck yourself in a few decent handfuls of sea salt. You need enough so that you are a little bit salty when you get out.
This will do wonders at soothing and promoting healing to any existing eczema wounds or blisters and help the rest of your skin heal, reducing the risk of further flare ups.
Contrary to what you are probably thinking, this will not dry your skin out. It is super gentle on your skin too. I share pretty much all of my baths with Lil’Mem so she always gets a good salty bath too. It’s that gentle that I really don’t worry about this hurting her at all.
Wash with African Black Soap.
This has got to be one of my favourite discoveries ever.
I originally bought it to help keep my acne at bay (I know, I know – is there anything right about my skin? No, not really) with really positive results.
It boasts a whole range of benefits, especially for eczema and other skin complaints. It’s naturally fragrance free, moisturising, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, suitable for all skin types and soothing on those nasty rashes and outbreaks.
Seriously – give this one a go – you won’t regret it!
The only thing I will say is that it is probably completely different from any soap you have ever used before, so it can come with a bit of a learning curve for your skin. Take it slowly and gently.
Use it two or three times a week at first, gradually increasing to using it every day. Don’t use the soap bar directly on your skin, unless you want a ‘deep exfoliation’! Lather up on a face cloth on in your hands and apply the lather to your skin, and for the love of god don’t get it in your eyes – trust me on this one!
Here is a link to the exact African Black Soap that I used, which has almost completely eradicated my eczema in just a few short weeks: https://amzn.to/2WftqeS .
Skip the E45 and try out other moisturisers.
Unless E45 is your Holy Grail of moisturisers and it really helps you manage your skin, I suggest trying some other alternatives to see if they help your skin.
This is really down to trial and error, personal preference and finding what is the best fit for your skin, so prepare to experiment!
Some people have rave reviews about completely natural moisturisers, of which I tend to agree with. Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, and Sunflower Seed Oil are widely reviewed natural moisturisers. I personally use Pure Shea Butter as my facial moisturiser and to tackle any really dry patches!
There are also lots of new emerging moisturisers and emollients to rival E45, like Aveno (a personal favourite of mine. Link : https://amzn.to/2WbwTLz ) and Cetraben (Link: https://amzn.to/2Oi4H7h ) which is receiving a lot of praise in the ‘skin complaint community’.
Play about and try different things. At the end of the day, the more you like using a product, the more you are likely to apply it – quite a plus when trying to treat dry skin conditions!
Give Oats a Try!
If you’re feeling particularly sore and itchy or if you just want a (seemingly strange) way to relax in your bath, try the wives’ favourite for Chicken Pox!
Cut up an old pair of tights; using either the toe bit, or a piece of leg tied at one end, stuff the ‘tight bag’ with a load of natural porridge oats, tie up the other end, and chuck it in your bath. Swirl and squish it around in your bathwater to release its milky, oaty goodness and relax!
You can also use the soaked oat bag to wash your skin – its wonderfully soothing, moisturising and oddly relaxing!
The oats do wonders for your skin, whatever its state. Lil’Mem is always desperate for ‘mummy tights’ in the bath!
Go check it out with your GP.
If you are suffering and nothing is bringing you any relief, or if things aren’t getting better and especially if they are getting worse, go and see your GP.
I know that I can manage my skin brilliantly with the above methods, but this might not be the case for everyone, so please do go and get things checked out – that is what our Doctors, Nurses, and Dermatologists are here for – to help you get better!
Whatever situation you are in, remember, things will get better soon!
Maybe you have thought of the miracle solution that I haven’t?! Please let me know what you have tried!