Dermatoses of the breast in lactation


  • Conflicts of Interest: Ms. Barrett, Dr. Heller, Dr. Fullerton Stone, and Dr. Murase have no conflicts of interest to disclose. There was no funding provided for the production of this article.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jenny E. Murase, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor UCSF, Department of Dermatology, Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, 701 East El Camino Real (31-104), Mountain View, CA 94040, or email:


Dermatoses of the breast during lactation can be difficult to diagnose because of their overlapping clinical appearances. It is important to properly diagnose and treat nipple dermatitis since it can be a significant source of pain when nursing. Poorly controlled nipple pain in nursing mothers is one of the primary reasons for breastfeeding to be discontinued earlier than is recommended. Therefore, it is relevant for practicing dermatologists to be aware of certain facts in a patient's history, specific physical exam findings, and the most appropriate laboratory tests used to diagnose these conditions. In addition, the therapeutic approach should be effective and safe for the mother and infant. This review article provides dermatologists with a detailed discussion on the clinical features and management of various breast dermatoses seen in lactation, including atopic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, psoriasis, bacterial infections, yeast infections and herpes simplex virus infections.