Drug Levels and Effects:

Summary of Use during Lactation:

Cayenne peppers (Capsicum species) contain capsaicin and related compounds which cause the hot, spicy flavor, as well as numerous other components. Capsicum has no specific lactation-related uses and no information is available on the excretion of Capsicum components in breastmilk. Capsicum is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) as a food by the US Food and Drug Administration. Oral ingestion can cause gastrointestinal irritation and has caused skin rashes in the breastfed infants of women who eat foods spiced with red peppers.[1] Capsicum may increase the risk of bleeding and should be used cautiously in patients taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications. Cross reactions can occur in those allergic to members of the Solanaceae family of plants (e.g., potatoes, tomatoes, paprika, Jimson weed). Capsaicin is used topically for pain. Application of Capsicum or capsaicin to the mother's skin should not affect the infant as long as the infant's skin does not come into direct contact with the areas of skin that have been treated. Do not apply capsaisin cream to the breast.

Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to prove the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does not certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed informationabout dietary supplementsis available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

Drug Levels:

Maternal Levels.

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Infant Levels.

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Effects in Breastfed Infants:

Two breastfed infants developed dermatitis after their mothers ingested gimchee (kimchi) that was mildly to moderately flavored with red pepper. One was a 6-month-old girl who developed an erythematous rash across the chest and neck. The reaction occurred after 3 nursing bouts within 12 hours of the maternal ingestion of gimghee. The rash gradually remitted over the next 48 hours. In the other case, a 6-month-old boy developed an erythematous dermatitis on the upper forehead and a more severe dermatitis near the eyebrows within 15 hours of nursing, followed by desquamation within 24 hours. Resolution of the reaction took about 5 days. A second, milder reaction occurred in the same areas of the infant's face 2 months later when his mother ingested a squid dish mildly flavored with red pepper. The authors report discussions with two physicians from Korea who stated that these types of reactions are seen occasionally and well known in Korea. They stated that the reactions usually start about 12 hours after nursing and persist for 24 to 48 hours for mild reactions and up to 10 days for more severe reactions. Irritation around the anus is also seen.[1] Both reactions were probably cause by maternal red pepper ingestion.

Possible Effects on Lactation:

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.


1. Cooper RL, Cooper MM. Red pepper-induced dermatitis in breast-fed infants. Dermatology. 1996;193:61-2. PMID:8864625

Substance Identification:

Substance Name:


Scientific Name:

Capsicum frutescens Capsicum annuum Capsicum chinense Capsicum baccatum Capsicum pubescens Capsicum minimum

CAS Registry Number:


Drug Class:

  • Complementary Therapies

  • Food

  • Phytotherapy

  • Plants, Medicinal

  • Administrative Information:

    LactMed Record Number:


    Last Revision Date:

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