Tips for Breastfeeding With Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dermatitis

Tips for Dealing With Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dermatitis

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Eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis are skin conditions that can develop in many areas of the body including the breast, areola, and nipple. They can show up as dry, red, raised rashes or flaky, scaly patches on the skin that may itch, burn, crack, bleed or ooze.

If you're a nursing mom and these conditions appear on your breasts, it can interfere with breastfeeding. Here's what you need to know about dealing with skin conditions of the breast.

Breastfeeding With a Skin Condition

A rash or any other type of skin irritation on your breast, areola, or nipple can make it painful to nurse to your child. However, you don't have to stop breastfeeding. Here's what to do if a skin condition develops.

  • Continue to breastfeed your child to maintain your supply of breast milk and prevent other issues such as breast engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and mastitis.
  • Correct a poor latch, which can help to prevent further damage to your skin. A poor latch can lead to outbreaks of these types of skin conditions.
  • Refrain from wearing tight-fitting bras or clothing that can put pressure on your breasts and irritate your skin.
  • Soak up leaks by using absorbent breast pads made from natural materials, and avoid those with plastic linings. Also, be sure to change your breast pads when they get wet. Moisture trapped on your skin can make the irritation worse.
  • Continue to nurse from the other side if it is too painful to breastfeed from one of your breasts. Pump or hand express your milk from the painful side while it's healing. 
  • Use an alternative feeding method to feed your child until you can return to breastfeeding.If you are not putting your baby to the breast, use a breast pump frequently to maintain your milk supply and prevent some of the common problems of breastfeeding.

If you need help with your baby's position and latch, contact your doctor, a lactation consultant or your local breastfeeding group for assistance.

Treatment of a Skin Condition

A skin condition of the breast can affect breastfeeding. But proper treatment can bring about pain relief and healing of itchy, scaly, irritated skin. Here's how to treat a skin condition of the breast when you're breastfeeding. 

  • See your doctor or a dermatologist for a true diagnosis, treatment instructions, and pain relief.
  • Remove the irritant so your skin can begin to heal more quickly. Dermatitis and eczema are sometimes caused by an allergy or irritation, so if you can determine the cause, try to eliminate it.
  • Wear breast shells inside your bra, which can prevent your clothing from rubbing against your skin.
  • Use hydrogel breast pads can soothe your breasts if they become irritated.
  • Rinse with freshly expressed breast milk, which can help to moisturize your skin and promote healing.
  • Use UVB light treatments as they are considered safe for breastfeeding women and maybe helpful
  • Tell your doctor you are breastfeeding before he prescribes any treatments. Certain options for the treatment of psoriasis including methotrexate, cyclosporine, PUVA, and biologic medications are not safe to use while breastfeeding.

Many treatment plans for skin conditions include the use of topical steroid ointments or creams that you need to apply directly to the affected area. Apply these medications immediately after breastfeeding and gently wash your breasts well before nursing again.

When to Call the Doctor

If you do not begin to see improvement of your condition after you start treatment, call the doctor. There are other conditions, such as thrush or other forms of dermatitis, that may look similar to eczema or psoriasis but require different treatment.

And, although uncommon, a kind of cancer called Paget's disease of the breast can be misdiagnosed as eczema or dermatitis. 

1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Barankin B, Gross MS. Nipple and areolar eczema in the breastfeeding woman. J Cutan Med Surg. 2004;8(2):126-30. doi:10.1007/s10227-004-0116-6

Additional Reading

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.