Pregnancy and breast-feeding when you have psoriasis

Pregnancy might change your psoriasis symptoms and treatment. Find out what's safe and what's not when pregnant and breast-feeding.

Psoriasis treatments keep your skin clear — but are they safe when you're pregnant and breast-feeding? Pregnancy can affect your psoriasis symptoms and change your treatment. But you can take steps to reduce your psoriasis while keeping your baby safe.

Pregnancy and psoriasis: How your body responds

During pregnancy, psoriasis symptoms can worsen for a small number of women. But most women have clearer skin or no change in their psoriasis symptoms.

After delivery, it's common for psoriasis to flare. And some women newly develop a psoriasis-related arthritis (psoriatic arthritis).

What treatments could hurt my baby?

In general, it's best to stop taking any psoriasis medications that aren't necessary while you're pregnant. Some psoriasis treatments may cause birth defects. Treatments that aren't recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding include:

  • Oral retinoids, such as acitretin (Soriatane)
  • Oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Methotrexate (Trexall), a drug that may be taken orally or through an injection in the muscle
  • Tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage), a topical treatment
  • Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) phototherapy, because it's unknown how the drug that's taken with this light therapy affects the baby

What treatments are likely safe?

If you have mild psoriasis, you can often manage symptoms with topical treatments while you're pregnant and breast-feeding. Some oral and injected medications may also be safe. Your doctor might suggest:

  • Moisturizers and emollients to keep skin hydrated.
  • Topical corticosteroids, though your doctor might recommend less frequent applications of a low-strength option to be careful.
  • Narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy, if topical treatments don't provide relief.
  • Cyclosporine (Sandimmune), an oral medication likely safe during pregnancy, though experts don't fully understand the risks.
  • Biologic drugs, including adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade) and etanercept (Enbrel) are likely safe, though their effect in pregnant and breast-feeding women is unknown. Your doctor might recommend stopping biologics toward the end of the pregnancy to protect your newborn from a possible increased risk of infection. If you have very severe psoriasis, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of continuing biologic therapy during your pregnancy.

Treating psoriasis while breast-feeding

With some precautions, some psoriasis treatments also can be used safely when breast-feeding.

  • Mild topical corticosteroids and moisturizers are the safest treatments while breast-feeding. Don't apply the topical corticosteroid just before breast-feeding if you have psoriasis on your breasts. Apply it after your baby has finished feeding. And clean it off before the baby's next feeding.
  • Oral corticosteroids are also safe if topical medications don't work for you, because very little reaches the breast milk. Just make sure that you wait about four hours after taking the oral corticosteroid before breast-feeding.

Whether you're pregnant or breast-feeding, discuss the risks and benefits of your psoriasis treatment options with your doctor. In addition to medical treatments, you can help control your psoriasis symptoms with self-care measures. Use a daily moisturizer, follow a gentle skin care routine, reduce stress, and avoid any of your known psoriasis triggers.

Jan. 03, 2019 See more In-depth

See also

  1. 6 ways to manage itchy skin when you have psoriasis
  2. Arthritis
  3. Arthritis pain: Do's and don'ts
  4. Botox injections: Can they relieve arthritis pain?
  5. Can arthritis pain medications be harmful?
  6. Chapped lips: What's the best remedy?
  7. Dry skin
  8. Ease stress to reduce your psoriasis flares
  9. Exercising with arthritis
  10. Ground flaxseed
  11. Gluten sensitivity and psoriasis: What's the connection?
  12. How to heal cracked heels
  13. How to heal cracked skin at thumb tip
  14. Is the Mediterranean diet good for psoriasis?
  15. Living better with psoriasis
  16. Psoriasis-related health risks
  17. Mayo Clinic Minute: Fingernails are clues to your health
  18. Mayo Clinic Minute: Moisturizer tips from a dermatologist
  19. Moisturizers: Options for softer skin
  20. MSM for arthritis pain: Is it safe?
  21. nail psoriasis
  22. Photodynamic therapy
  23. Prednisone risks, benefits
  24. Psoriasis
  25. Psoriasis and clinical trials
  26. Psoriasis and intimacy
  27. Psoriasis and your self-esteem
  28. Psoriasis diet: Can changing your diet treat psoriasis?
  29. Identifying psoriasis triggers
  30. Psoriasis: Get the most out of your treatment
  31. Psoriasis: How can I protect my skin during a workout?
  32. Fish oil supplements
  33. Psoriasis treatment options
  34. Psoriasis: What if I get psoriatic arthritis, too?
  35. Psoriasis: What to share with your doctor
  36. Relaxation techniques
  37. Scalp psoriasis vs. seborrheic dermatitis
  38. Self-esteem check
  39. Skin biopsy
  40. Skin care tips
  41. Skip flavored lip balm
  42. How to trim thickened toenails
  43. Slide show: 5 ways to thrive with psoriasis through the holidays
  44. Slide show: Caring for your skin when you have psoriasis
  45. Hand exercises for people with arthritis
  46. Joint protection
  47. Types of psoriasis
  48. Common skin rashes
  49. Stress management
  50. Time your lotions right
  51. Ward off dry skin
  52. Water exercise
  53. Alternative psoriasis treatments
  54. What are the risks of vaccinations for people living with psoriasis?
  55. What's the best way to manage scalp psoriasis?
  56. White patch on skin: A cause for concern?
  57. Yucca: Can it relieve arthritis pain?