Last update Jan. 2, 2024

Silver Nitrate

Very Low Risk

Safe. Compatible. Minimal risk for breastfeeding and infant.

Silver is a metal with antibacterial properties that is used topically as a metal or as silver salts or compounds. It is also a colorant (E174) used in baking. Silver compounds used in medicine are, among others, silver nitrate, silver protein, colloidal silver and silver sulfadiazine.

Silver nitrate is used as a 1% eye drop for the prophylaxis of gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum, but it is very irritating and other types of eye drops are preferred (Castro 2023). It is also used topically to treat umbilical cord granulomas (Ho 2023Daniels 2001) and warts. Silver protein is also used as an ophthalmic or skin antiseptic and contains up to 8% silver. 

As of the time of the last update, we found no published data on the excretion of silver in breast milk.

Less than 4% is absorbed transcutaneously and its oral bioavailability is less than 10%. (Lansdown 2010)

Recommendations for Drugs in the Eleventh WHO Model List of Essential Drugs: compatible with Breastfeeding. (WHO 2002)

Do not apply to the breast to avoid ingestion by the infant; if necessary, apply after a feeding and clean well with water before the next feeding.

See below the information of these related products:

  • Colloidal silver ( Poorly safe. Evaluate carefully. Use safer alternative or interrupt breastfeeding 3 to 7 T ½ (elimination half-lives). Read the Comment.)
  • Sulfadiazine Silver (Possibly safe. Probably compatible. Mild risk possible. Follow up recommended. Read the Comment.)


We do not have alternatives for Silver Nitrate since it is relatively safe.

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Silver Nitrate in other languages or writings:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Silver Nitrate in its composition:


Variable Value Unit
Molecular weight 170 daltons


  1. Castro Ochoa KJ, Mendez MD. Ophthalmia Neonatorum. 2023 Jan 31. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Consulted on Dec. 31, 2023 Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  2. Ho SR, Huang HC. Silver nitrate burns following umbilical granuloma treatment. Pediatr Neonatol. 2023 Aug 25. pii: S1875-9572(23)00137-7. Consulted on Dec. 31, 2023 Abstract
  3. Lansdown AB. A pharmacological and toxicological profile of silver as an antimicrobial agent in medical devices. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2010;2010:910686. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  4. WHO / UNICEF. BREASTFEEDING AND MATERNAL MEDICATION Recommendations for Drugs in the Eleventh WHO Model List of Essential Drugs. Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development (WHO/UNICEF) 2002 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Daniels J. Is silver nitrate the best agent for management of umbilical granulomas? Arch Dis Child. 2001 Nov;85(5):432. Review. No abstract available. Abstract Full text (link to original source)

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