Weak topical steroids such as hydrocortisone are commonly recommended for itchy or irritated skin. For those with more severe eczema or dermatitis, doctors may prescribe more potent corticosteroids.
Normally, steroid-containing creams are quickly absorbed and not strong enough to cause any harmful effects in a nursing baby.
However, overusing this type of cream makes the skin thin and fragile, which worsens nipple cracks and damage. Only use these creams on the necessary areas at the lowest effective potency. Avoid applying them directly to the nipple and areola area, as these are more sensitive.
Retinoids are vitamin A-derivatives that are often ingredients in many anti-aging products. Aside from smoothening out wrinkles, it can help with skin discoloration and stretch marks. Some women may try using their existing facial products in lieu of a nipple cream for breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, retinoids are a big no-no as they are known to cause birth defects.
But what about breastfeeding infants?
Even though breastfeeding babies are already out of the womb, they can still suffer the negative effects of retinoids through breastmilk and topical products. Infants and young children should never be exposed to retinoids, as these can affect their development.
It may seem counterintuitive, but when selecting a nipple cream for breastfeeding, less is sometimes more.
Unlike lighter creams, ointments are not quickly absorbed.
They are designed to be occlusive, which means they block the skin. This prolongs contact with the skin’s surface but repels water and blocks out air.