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. 04, 2018
See more In-depth
- Pomeranz MK, et al. Management of psoriasis in pregnancy. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Nov. 6, 2017.
- Pregnancy and nursing. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/pregnancy. Accessed Nov. 6, 2017.
- FDA determinations for pregnant and nursing women. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/pregnancy/fda-determinations. Accessed Nov. 6, 2017.
- Kurizky P, et al. Treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. 2015;90:367.
- Systemic medications. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/systemics/methotrexate. Accessed Dec. 13, 2017.