There is nothing like the warmth and brightness when the sun kisses your skin! Even if you’re having a bad day, a dose of vitamin D can work wonders, calm an anxious mind, and strengthen a tired body. It’s no wonder a day at the pool or on the beach with a loved one feels so good for your body, mind, and spirit. This is especially true for expectant mothers. But what to do if you get sunburned during pregnancy?
Of course, as with many things in life, you can get too much of a good thing. We have all had an uncomfortable sunburn before and it is best for our health and wellbeing to avoid too much of the sun’s harmful UV rays. This applies in particular to pregnant women who have to be particularly careful with sunburns.
Below we’ve put together helpful questions and answers to tell you everything you need to know about sunburn during pregnancy.
Q: Are you more prone to sunburns during pregnancy?
Answer: yes. Pregnant women have elevated levels of hormones that make their skin particularly sensitive, including increased sensitivity to the sun. Because UV rays penetrate the skin more easily, pregnant women are more prone to burns. In fact, they burn faster than when not pregnant, and they have a slightly increased risk of developing skin cancer. But there are also other consequences of excessive sun exposure for expectant mothers.
The same hormones that help your body grow and feed a developing baby also get your skin’s pigment-producing cells running at full speed. This means that instead of a tan, your sun exposure can cause lifelong sun damage. Even more worrying for many women, the sun can cause melasma in pregnant women; that is, gray or brown spots on the face or neck that may never go away.
Q: Can sunburn during pregnancy affect an unborn baby?
A: Yes, but only in rare cases. While expectant mothers certainly have to worry about their own health and safety, many are more concerned about whether sunburn can negatively affect a growing baby. Unfortunately, it can have some ramifications. First, too much sun can lead to dehydration. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women as dehydration can lead to premature labor. You should drink plenty of water during the summer months and stay hydrated regardless of sun problems!
Second, UV rays are known to break down folic acid in the body, which is incredibly important for the health and development of a baby who is still in the uterus. In particular, folic acid helps prevent birth defects. For this reason, it is particularly dangerous for a pregnant woman to get too much sun exposure during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Q: How can you prevent sunburn during pregnancy?
A: Pregnant women can rely on the same methods they used before pregnancy to prevent sunburn in many ways. Namely, covering bare skin with clothing and using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 40. However, when it comes to sunscreen, expectant mothers need to choose wisely. Different brands of sunscreen use different ingredients to protect your skin. Personally, I love Earth Mama Sunscreen + the stick is easy to roll up!
Some of these formulas, like the ones that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, sit on the skin and are generally considered safe for pregnant women. Sunscreens that contain oxybenzone should be avoided, however, as it can penetrate the skin and eventually get into the bloodstream – and your developing baby.
Despite these precautions, you should stay out of the sun and drink plenty of water during peak hours. And while it may be tempting to flaunt your budding tummy, keep in mind that the sun can hit it from all angles, creating an increased risk of sunburn on your baby bump.
Q: How do you cure sunburn during pregnancy?
A: Even with safety precautions, we cannot always fully protect ourselves from sunburn. Fortunately, there are many products on the market that can relieve pain and heal sunburned skin. Unfortunately, not all of them are safe for pregnant women. For example, products that contain lidocaine should be avoided.
Instead, you should opt for aloe vera gel or oil to treat your sunburn. I recommend keeping it in the refrigerator until you need it so that you can enjoy even more cooling relief as you apply it.
A cool bath or shower can also help safely relieve your sunburn. Some people swear by adding a little apple cider vinegar to bath water to treat their sore and inflamed skin. If you feel your anxiety level increasing due to concern that the burn affected your baby, practice deep breathing and try to stay calm. The vast majority of sunburns are only skin deep and are unlikely to have any negative effects on your baby’s health.
Q: When should you see your doctor for sunburn during pregnancy?
A: Sunburns are often painful, but they usually fade within a few days, even without treatment protocols. They are usually not dangerous to mother or baby and can usually be treated at home if you have any discomfort. However, if sunburn is so severe that the skin is blistering or has developed drainage, see your doctor. You should also see a doctor if you are dehydrated or overheated to the point where it is difficult to breathe.
Symptoms to look out for include excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, and less than usual sweating or urination. In rare cases, sunburn can lead to a fever and this is also a sign that medical attention is needed. Be sure to see your doctor if you get sunburned and then develop a fever of 100 degrees or more.
While there are certainly many dangers associated with sunburn during pregnancy, expectant women don’t need to avoid the sun entirely. In fact, it’s even healthy to go outside and soak up the sun and fresh air. Moderate exposure, while observing these precautions, is unlikely to be of concern. However, if you are concerned about a specific scenario or question, speak to your doctor and follow their advice.
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