Betamethasone, Topical use while Breastfeeding
Betamethasone, Topical Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Betamethasone ointment appears to have no advantage over lanolin for treating sore nipples during breastfeeding. Since only extensive application of the most potent corticosteroids may cause systemic effects in the mother, it is unlikely that short-term application of topical corticosteroids would pose a risk to the breastfed infant by passage into breastmilk. However, it would be prudent to use the least potent drug on the smallest area of skin possible. It is particularly important to ensure that the infant's skin does not come into direct contact with the areas of skin that have been treated. Only the lower potency corticosteroids should be used on the nipple or areola where the infant could directly ingest the drugs from the skin. Only water-miscible cream or gel products should be applied to the breast because ointments may expose the infant to high levels of mineral paraffins via licking. Any topical corticosteroid should be wiped off thoroughly prior to nursing if it is being applied to the breast or nipple area.
Maternal Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
Topical application of a corticosteroid with relatively high mineralocorticoid activity (isofluprednone acetate) to the mother's nipples resulted in prolonged QT interval, cushingoid appearance, severe hypertension, decreased growth and electrolyte abnormalities in her 2-month-old breastfed infant. The mother had used the cream since birth for painful nipples.
A woman who was nursing (extent not stated) her newborn infant was treated for pemphigus with oral prednisolone 25 mg daily, with the dosage increased over 2 weeks to 60 mg daily. She was also taking cetirizine 10 mg daily and topical betamethasone 0.1% twice daily to the lesions. Because of a poor response, the betamethasone was changed to clobetasol propionate ointment 0.05%. She continued breastfeeding throughout treatment and her infant was developing normally at 8 weeks of age and beyond.
Possible Effects on Lactation
In a randomized, double-bind trial, lanolin was compared to an all-purpose nipple ointment containing betamethasone 0.05%, mupirocin 1%, and miconazole 2% for painful nipples while nursing in the first 2 weeks postpartum. The two treatments were equally effective in reducing nipple pain, nipple healing time, breastfeeding duration, breastfeeding exclusivity rate, mastitis and nipple symptoms, side effects or maternal satisfaction with treatment.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
1. Dennis CL, Schottle N, Hodnett E, McQueen K. An all-purpose nipple ointment versus lanolin in treating painful damaged nipples in breastfeeding women: A randomized controlled trial. Breastfeed Med. 2012;7:473-9. PMID: 22428572
2. Noti A, Grob K, Biedermann M et al. Exposure of babies to C(15)-C(45) mineral paraffins from human milk and breast salves. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2003;38(3):317-25. PMID: 14623482
3. De Stefano B, Bongo IG, Borgna-Pignatti C et al. Factitious hypertension with mineralocorticoid excess in an infant. Helv Paediatr Acta. 1983;38:185-9. PMID: 6874387
4. Westermann L, Hugel R, Meier M et al. Glucocorticosteroid-resistant pemphigoid gestationis: successful treatment with adjuvant immunoadsorption. J Dermatol. 2012;39:168-71. PMID: 22379622
Betamethasone, Topical Identification
CAS Registry Number
- Corticosteroids, Topical
LactMed Record Number
Information from the National Library of Medicine's LactMed Database.
Last Revision Date
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