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Can Breastfeeding Cause Eczema?
I never had eczema before, but after a few months of breastfeeding my newborn, I have it bad, and it gets worse and worse each month. I don't want to stop breastfeeding, but should I?
Answer (Published 9/15/2008)
Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is an allergic skin condition that produces itchy, thickened, red areas on various parts of the body. It tends to come and go, and often occurs along with other allergic conditions such as asthma. Rarely, eczema can develop on the nipples of nursing mothers. If that’s what has happened in your case, be sure to consult a dermatologist who can confirm the diagnosis. With proper treatment, you should be able to continue nursing your baby.
Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health, notes that breastfeeding and eczema has been studied in babies much more than in moms, and that breastfeeding can help protect your baby from developing eczema and other allergies. A policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued in January 2008 recommends breastfeeding for at least four months to protect high-risk children against eczema and milk allergy during the first two years of life. The AAP defined "high risk" as babies with a family history of eczema, asthma or food allergies.
Dr. Low Dog also suggests that you take a probiotic and one to two grams of fish oil daily. Both are safe for your baby and may help bring your eczema under control.
I further recommend visualization and hypnotherapy, both of which can have a significant positive impact on allergy-related skin conditions such as eczema. And try to relax – stress can make the condition worse. Explore relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and yoga.
In general, my recommendations for treating eczema include the following:
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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