My Pregnancy with Eczema - Updated

2/16/19 update: 2 years after my first pregnancy, I’ve realized I was probably going through Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW). Read more about it on my post about my second pregnancy. Below’s post is unedited and how I reacted to my first pregnancy at the time.

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I  gave birth to my first baby 15 months ago after a roller coaster pregnancy full of challenging eczema flare ups. True, I'm a chronic eczema fighter, but my ten plus years of eczema did not compare to the eczema I experienced during my pregnancy. 

1. My Eczema was Pregnancy-Induced

For the first few months of my pregnancy, I blamed the disruption of my eczema treatment for the severe flare ups. When I wasn't pregnant, I used acupuncture and took herbal pills to control my eczema, but I had to stop both when I became pregnant.

Months later, I changed my conclusion: my pregnancy itself was the reason for my severe eczema flare ups. Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones or my body reacting to the changes in my body, but I blame my pregnancy for causing eczema. 

2. Doctors Told Me Steroids are Safe and Okay

My OB/GYN doctor told me that I could take a steroid pack to help handle my eczema. According to my doctor, this medication does not cross the placenta, so is fine.

What a relief I felt! I almost got a steroid pack, but then ...

 

3. Doctors Told Me Steroids are Dangerous and Not Okay  

All my other doctors - allergists, general physicians, even my pharmacist scared me away from taking oral steroids. They all resorted to "ask your OB/GYN," because it seemed they didn't want to be held accountable for a formal recommendation. Ultimately, I didn't take any oral steroids while I was pregnant.

4. Second Trimester: Horrible Eczema

Months four through six were the worst for my eczema, although it started in month three. By "worst," I mean the worst eczema I've ever had in my life. It was the worst few months I've ever experienced, complete with debilitating, leaking eczema all over my face and body that didn't even let me sleep for days at a time. There was edema, weeping, flaking, redness, hot, dry, full of lines. My recovery was swift, hard to believe and with no explanation. After 3 - 4 months of all-consuming eczema, my skin cleared up. Redness went away. Swelling went down. Al the lines on my face left, so I looked 20 years younger. And no more oozing. I could finally sleep. 

During the fifth month, my eczema drastically improved on its own, similar to how morning sickness goes away during the second trimester. It felt good to finally shift my attention to the little baby I was baking. 

5. Last Weeks of Pregnancy: Eczema Returns, Not as Bad

Late in my third trimester, my eczema came back, although it was not as severe.

6. Giving Birth with Eczema

My skin didn't look or feel great when I went into labor, but it at least my body and face didn't feel like a statue. My eczema didn't get in the way of my giving birth, thankfully. And my husband and I welcomed our first child!

7. Post Birth: Eczema and Medication

After being shamed by doctors to not take steroids while pregnant, I kept battling my eczema without much help. However, I went straight to the pharmacy to pick up my Prednisone pack as soon as I gave birth. Unfortunately, my pharmacist lectured me for taking oral steroids while I was breastfeeding. I have no words for that. 

After I gave birth to my daughter, my eczema stuck around. My face looked purple when I took her to baby yoga. My skin wasn't as horrible as my pregnancy's second trimester, but it was definitely not good. It has since turned around and my skin is beautiful, with only mild-to-moderate eczema due to my getting a new allergist and starting Dupixent and Protopic earlier this year.

8. Getting Pregnant Again

Today, according to my OB/GYN, I can stay on Protopic if I get pregnant again. Dupixent, however, is not safe. I took my last Dupixent injection two weeks ago. I will stay off it for about 3 months, then will start trying to get pregnant again. I'm more terrified than excited at this point and am keeping my fingers crossed that my second pregnancy produces another healthy, beautiful baby, but without the eczema torture this time. 

 

 

Vitamin D is Low Again ... And My Eczema is Flaring

 
vitamin_d_deficiency-eczema.png
 

Dupixent, Vitamin D, Probiotics and Protopic for Last 4 Months

I've been on Dupixent for almost 4 months. I'm also on Vitamin D supplements, the Align probiotic and use the generic version of the Protopic ointment. Full transparancy, I traveled a bit about a month ago and stopped consistently taking my Vitamin D and Align. I also didn't have Protopic for a few weeks.

My Skin Lately

In the last few weeks, my back has become flared up to the point of bothering me while I sleep, work, drive, etc. My arms have also been flared up, as have my legs. These flare-ups are nothing like they were earlier this year, I'd categorize them as moderate eczema flareups, since I know what severe flareups can be like. Still, it is uncomfortable and very itchy.

New Results: Low Vitamin D 

I tested my vitamin D levels yesterday and the results are in: 38 ng/ml. I need to be at least at 50  ng/ml, though my doctor recommends it be much, much higher for eczema fighters. This is now the second time that I have low Vitamin D results while my eczema is flaring up. And my skin has improved in the past as my Vitamin D levels go up. 

Other Possible Reasons for Flareups

An eczema fighter always has some off-the-wall, in-her-gut feeling about what could be causing her flareup. Lately, I've been thinking it's alcohol. Since starting Dupixent, my face has gotten very hot (physically hot, feels sunburned, looks bright red) when I drink sometimes, within the first few sips. I've realized that if I keep drinking, it goes away by the end of that drink. I started doing that the last month and I've wondered if my body was finding a different way to tell me to stop drinking - by flaring up on my body. Not sure, though, since the eczema lasts weeks after having drank. 

Conclusion for Today

I've had so many conclusions the last five years! Today, I think my eczema flareups are related to my low Vitamin D levels. And I think my flareups are moderate instead of severe because of Dupixent and Protopic. I'm still not convinced probiotics help, but it doesn't hurt to keep taking them. Short term plan: I will keep taking my Vitamin D supplements (2,000 units / day) and will not miss a single dose.