The Use of Betamethasone During Breastfeeding

February 6, 2021
Steroids work by reducing the release of substances that cause inflammation. Therefore, the use of betamethasone can be helpful in illnesses that involve excessive inflammation.

Betamethasone is a medicine that belongs to the group of corticoids or corticosteroids. These are synthetic glucocorticoids that have immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects. Topical derivatives of betamethasone act as anti-inflammatories in the treatment of dermatoses that respond to corticosteroids.

What symptoms does betamethasone treat?

A rash on a person's chest.

Because of its immunosuppressive effects, betamethasone is useful in treating the symptoms that occur as the result of a sudden drop in the body’s corticoid levels. It works by reducing the release of substances that cause inflammation, so it’s useful in diseases involving excessive inflammation.

So, doctors may prescribe the use of betamethasone for the treatment of:

  • Primary or secondary corticoid insufficiency in the body, such as Addison’s disease
  • Situations of shock as a result of bleeding, trauma, or severe infection
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Dermatoses that respond to corticoids, such as exfoliative dermatitis, hives, erythema multiforme, or severe psoriasis
  • Ophthalmic diseases: Severe acute and chronic allergic and inflammatory processes such as allergic conjunctivitis, keratitis, allergic corneal marginal ulcers, or ophthalmic herpes zoster

The use of betamethasone

Betamethasone is available in different forms of oral, parenteral, and topical administration. The appropriate dose of this corticoid is different for each patient and doctors will adjust it according to the disease at hand.

The administration of topical preparations involves placing a thin layer of the product on the area that requires treatment. However, specialists recommend intralesional administration for the treatment of keloids, lichen simplex chronicus, lupus erythematosus, or alopecia areata.

Remember that you should avoid abruptly stopping the treatment, especially when it comes to prolonged treatment. Keep in mind that corticoid withdrawal syndrome may appear, the symptoms of which are as follows:

  • General discomfort
  • Muscle weakness and pain
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Decrease in blood pressure and blood glucose

Find out: What is Addison’s disease?

Contraindications and precautions regarding the use of betamethasone

A man squeezing cream from a tube onto his finger.

As for the contraindications to the use of betamethasone, they include:

  • Allergy to corticoids
  • Systemic infection by fungi
  • Administration of live or attenuated virus vaccines
  • Injections into unstable joints, infected areas, or intervertebral spaces

At the same time, it’s important to practice special caution when using betamethasone in the case of diseases such as:

  • Bone diseases
  • Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heart, liver, or kidney diseases
  • Glaucoma
  • Thyroid disease

Breastfeeding

As for the use of betamethasone while breastfeeding, there is data indicating that the amount that passes into milk may be significant. For this reason, in prolonged treatments, it’s best to use corticosteroids known for their low conversion to milk.

However, this drug is compatible with breastfeeding as long as its use is occasional and for short treatments. However, in these cases, it’s important to monitor milk production.

As for the use of betamethasone prior to birth, it can delay the production of milk and decrease the amount during the first week.

You may be interested in: Breastfeeding and Medication: Compatible Drugs

Adverse reactions to the use of betamethasone

Short-term treatments generally don’t produce adverse reactions. However, long treatments can cause atrophy of the adrenal glands.

What’s more, the topical administration of betamethasone can produce adverse reactions which, if they’re intense or don’t disappear, require the attention of a specialist.

These adverse reactions can include:

  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Unwanted hair growth
  • Changes in skin color

However, other symptoms may appear, such as intense hives, redness, swelling, or signs of skin infection at the site of application.

When applying topical betamethasone to children, there’s an increased risk of side effects. For example, these include growth retardation and weight gain.

At a systemic level, in a prolonged treatment, the intensity of associated adverse effects increases with dose, as well as the duration of such effects.

That being said, some of the side effects that may occur after oral or parenteral administration of betamethasone are:

  • Swollen eyes
  • Breathing problems
  • More frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Dark-colored stools
  • Changes in vision

Conclusion

In conclusion, betamethasone is a corticosteroid which is mainly used topically to treat the discomfort that results from various skin problems. However, remember that you should always follow the instruction of a specialist.

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