Creams and Ointments applied to the skin of Breastfeeding Mothers

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The information provided is taken from various reference sources.  It is provided as a guideline.  No responsibility can be taken by the author or the Breastfeeding Network for the way in which the information is used.  Clinical decisions remain the responsibility of medical and breastfeeding practitioners.  The data presented here is intended to provide some immediate information but cannot replace input from professionals.

Breastfeeding mothers may need to apply a variety of cream and ointments to their skin whilst they are breastfeeding.  There is very little absorption of these products into breastmilk and most products can be applied without interruption of breastfeeding.

Creams which can be used:

  • Emollient creams/ointments to soothe and moisturise skin
  • Topical steroids can be applied sparingly as directed in normal quantities i.e. no more than one standard tube per week
  • Shower gels and bath emollients to soothe eczema
  • Anti-viral cream to treat cold sores (herpes simplex) e.g. acyclovir (Zovirax®)
  • Creams or ointments to be applied directly to the nipple or areola should be applied sparingly after feeds and any visible product gently wiped off before the subsequent breastfeed
  • Simple creams/ointments or gels to treat acne e.g. benzoyl peroxide,
  • Antibacterial creams/ointments/gels e.g. fucidic acid (Fucidin®)
  • Preparations for warts e.g. salicylic acid (Cuplex ®)
  • Preparations to treat verrucas e.g. Bazucca®
  • Topical anti-inflammatory creams/ointments/gels e.g. ibuprofen (Ibugel®), Diclofenac (Voltarol Emulgel®) Mentholatum (Deep Heat®)
  • Sunscreen products can be applied liberally as necessary
  • Antiseptic creams e.g. Savlon®


  • British National Formulary
  • Hale T. W Medications in Mothers Milk
  • Jones W Breastfeeding and Medication Routledge 2018

©Dr Wendy Jones MBE, MRPharmS and the Breastfeeding Network Sept 2019