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Q: Are steroid treatments for eczema safe during pregnancy?

A: If you are being treated with steroids for eczema and find out you are pregnant, there are certain steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of the fetus.

1. Contact your dermatologist and let her/him know you are pregnant. Steroid treatments should be used very carefully during pregnancy. Since corticosteroid cream is absorbed differently from person to person and the amount is not regulated per dose, the creams should also be used with caution, and only if medically indicated. 

All medications fall into categories of risk for use during pregnancy. If the current medications being taken or used for eczema treatment fall into a category that is not approved for pregnant women, the medication will need to be changed.

2. Maintain communication with the dermatologist. Most of the time, once a treatment plan is in place, the dermatologist will only require visits every 6 months, but in the case of pregnancy, hormone changes and changes to the excretion of the sebaceous (oil) glands can affect eczema. The dermatologist needs to work with you when you're pregnant to keep eczema under control. 

3. Watch closely for impetigo. If eczema goes untreated or flares up beyond the control of the current medication, impetigo can result. Impetigo is an infection of the skin that can cause fever and fetal risk and can be treated with antibiotics.

4. Use precautions during typical daily routines. Hot water should not be used for bathing. With severe eczema, bathing only once a week or once every two weeks may be needed in order to control the flare-ups. During these times, bathing of the sensitive areas of the body can be done without immersing the body in water.

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