Can I Use Flonase While Pregnant?

Woman dealing with allergies

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A familiar tickle in your nose and the blur of your eyes beginning to water tells you that allergy season has arrived. Normally, you would pull out your tried and true medications to fight runny noses and itchy eyes over the next few months. But this year, you're pregnant. Suddenly you're unsure what is safe to take and what isn't. Will you just have to suffer through your symptoms this time around?

Not enough research has been done to say for sure whether Flonase is safe to take during pregnancy, but studies indicate that it may be OK as long as you stick to the recommended dose and get your healthcare provider's approval.

"Flonase is currently category C per the FDA for use in pregnancy," says Neeta Ogden MD, an allergist and immunologist and a medical advisor for Curex. "This means the drug can be taken if there is a clinical need for it where the benefits outweigh the risks."

What Is Flonase?

Flonase (fluticasone) is a nasal spray used to treat allergy symptoms. It belongs to a group of drugs called corticosteroids. Corticosteroids resemble cortisol, a naturally occurring stress hormone. 

If you suffer from allergies, airborne particles set off your body’s defense system, resulting in symptoms like runny or stuffy noses or itchy, watery eyes. Flonase works to block this response in your body so that your symptoms clear up.

Is It Safe to Take Flonase During Pregnancy?

Flonase may be OK for you to take during pregnancy if your allergy symptoms are extreme. It belongs to FDA pregnancy category C. However, it is worth noting that over the past several years, the pharmaceutical industry (under FDA direction) has moved away from these letter classifications. Instead, they aim to provide specific information on potential risks. However, the category system is often still referenced, so it's important to understand it.

The Category C label means that animal studies have found some adverse effects on a fetus. Animal studies on Flonase found decreased fetal body weight and skeletal variations.

Category C drugs may be recommended by your healthcare provider when the benefits of taking them outweigh the risks. "If allergic rhinitis interferes with your daily life, Flonase is likely acceptable for the treatment during pregnancy," notes Chet Tharpe, MD, an allergist and immunologist and medical director at Curex.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Flonase while pregnant.

What If I Take Flonase Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?

You may have found out that you are pregnant during allergy season while you were already taking Flonase. If this is the case, don't worry. Just check in with your healthcare provider.

"Since Flonase has been shown to have low bioavailability, [which means] low systemic absorption, it is unlikely to be dangerous if you took it before you realized you are pregnant," notes Dr. Ogden. "We simply don’t have enough studies in pregnancy, but a recent review of intranasal steroids showed no significant association with congenital organ malformations linked to Flonase."

You and your healthcare provider will need to weigh out the risks and benefits of taking Flonase while pregnant and decide whether you should stop taking it, switch to something else, or continue taking it.

Safety Precautions

If you and your healthcare provider decide that taking Flonase during pregnancy is the right choice for you, it is important to stick to the recommended daily dose and to follow your healthcare provider's advice.

Adults should use no more than 200 micrograms of Flonase per day. That is equivalent to two sprays per nostril. To minimize any possible risk to your baby, stick strictly to this limit. Your healthcare provider may even advise you to take a smaller dose during pregnancy.

When Can I Resume Taking Flonase?

If you found another way to manage your allergy symptoms during pregnancy, you can start taking Flonase again after you give birth. However, take extra caution if you are breastfeeding. Only use Flonase while breastfeeding with your healthcare provider's advice.

"Because corticosteroids have been detected in human milk and there is no data from controlled trials on the use of Flonase by nursing mothers, it recommended that breastfeeding women be cautious about using Flonase," explains Dr. Ogden.

Pregnancy Safe Alternatives

Since we don't know enough about Flonase to say for sure whether it's safe, you may want to try other remedies while pregnant. If they work for you, stick with them throughout pregnancy.

Avoid Allergens

If you are concerned about the risks of taking Flonase while pregnant, you may want to abstain from it completely and try staying away from anything that might set off your allergies. If you can avoid or reduce coming into contact with your allergy triggers, you may be able to get through allergy season without having to take any type of medicine. This won't necessarily be feasible for everyone, however.

Lower-Risk Medications

Flonase may not be the safest choice for a nasal corticosteroid during pregnancy, but you have other options to try. You may be able to switch to another anti-allergy medicine. While Flonase is currently category C, Rhinocort (budesonide) is category B. Category B drugs have been tested on animals and shown no adverse effects on a fetus. Talk with your healthcare provider about which other allergy medications might be safer for you.

Saline Solution

If congestion is your most frustrating allergy symptom, try a saline solution. Spraying a mixture of salt and warm water into your nose may be just as effective for congestion relief as over-the-counter sprays. "A saline spray can rinse out allergens and inflammatory mucous, bringing relief," explains Dr. Tharpe.

A Word From Verywell

If you use Flonase for allergy relief, you should definitely discuss this with your healthcare provider if you are considering pregnancy or are already pregnant. We don't know enough about this drug's effects on a fetus to say for sure whether it is safe. However, studies show that it is likely fine to take if the benefits of using it outweigh the risks. If you choose not to take Flonase, you can opt for a different medication or allergy relief method while pregnant. This is a decision to make together with your healthcare provider.

8 Sources
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.
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By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.