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Acne Treatments While Nursing

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
Acne Treatments While Nursing
Take care when treating your acne and breastfeeding. Photo Credit VladimirFLoyd/iStock/Getty Images

Breastfeeding is the ideal way to provide nutrition for your baby. Just as you were careful as to what you ate and medications taken during pregnancy, you must take precautions when breastfeeding. Because acne medications can be secreted in breast milk, be aware of what medications are suitable for use post-pregnancy--and which medications are not.


The active ingredients in acne medications work in different ways to heal acne. When you apply these medications to the face or take them orally, the body metabolizes each differently. Some acne treatments are absorbed minimally by the skin and quickly metabolize--meaning they are safe for use. However, some medications can enter the milk compartments from which you breastfeed your baby and harm your baby's development.

Safe Treatments

Treatments considered safe for use when breastfeeding include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, according to KellyMom.com. These medications, which are ingredients in many over-the-counter products, are not absorbed into a new mom's milk supply and therefore do not pose a risk to baby.

Erythromycin, an antibiotic that can fight acne, also has been approved for use by the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, the medication may increase your baby's risk for thrush when taken orally.

Unsafe/Questionable Treatments

Accutane, an oral form of isotrenoin, should never be taken while breastfeeding as it can damage the nervous, cardiovascular and skeletal system, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Other medications may vary on a case-by-case basis dependent upon how they are used. These have been rated by the American Academy of Pediatrics as being "moderately" safe for use when pregnant: adapalene, azelaic acid, clindamycin, metronidazole and tretinoin.


If you find you have used a product that contains ingredients that may be questionable, discontinue use and notify your physician, according to BabyCenter.com. Your doctor may be able to discuss any symptoms with you that you can observe in your baby to ensure no damage is incurred. If you pump your milk supply, throwing out any bottles from this time may help.

Because some makeup products can contain acne fighters as well, carefully review makeup you are currently using in order to ensure your products are safe during breastfeeding.


The more surface area upon which you apply a topical skin treatment, the more the treatment is absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore, if you are utilizing an acne product in small doses, such as a spot treatment cream, it may pose less of a risk than using the treatment over your entire face or any other areas of the body where you experience acne, according to BabyCenter.com.

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