Dexamethasone, Topical use while Breastfeeding
Medically reviewed on April 2, 2018
Dexamethasone, Topical Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Topical dexamethasone has not been studied during breastfeeding. Since only extensive application of the most potent corticosteroids 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 (e.g., hydrocortisone, triamcinolone) 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.
Because absorption from the eye is limited, ophthalmic dexamethasone would not be expected to cause any adverse effects in breastfed infants. To substantially diminish the amount of drug that reaches the breastmilk after using eye drops, place pressure over the tear duct by the corner of the eye for 1 minute or more, then remove the excess solution with an absorbent tissue.
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.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Alternate Drugs to Consider
1. 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
2. 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
Dexamethasone, Topical Identification
CAS Registry Number
LactMed Record Number
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