Sunburn when Pregnant (5 Treatment & Prevention Tips)

Having sunburn when pregnant is not widely talked about like other issues women deal with while pregnant. Problems like swelling, bold stretch marks, acne, and profuse sweating are often discussed because more women experience them.

Sunburn when pregnancy is another thing some women deal with, and while this may be problematic to some, it is only for a while and, if handled properly, will diminish without the woman stressing so much.

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Sunburn When Pregnant

As a regular woman who is not pregnant, it is easy to deal with sunburns and prevent them even, but when pregnant, many things no longer affect you alone.

A sunburn is harmless, but severe sunburn is a great threat to both the mother and the baby. Beyond just the discomfort sunburn causes, it may lead to premature labor in pregnant women.

Dehydration, cramping, and body temperature are common issues caused by severe sunburn in pregnant women.

Dehydration

When exposed to a high temperature of 90°F and above, pregnant women risk suffering from dehydration twice as much as regular women.

This means that a pregnant woman can lose twice the amount of water a non-pregnant woman loses when dehydrated due to sunburn.

This dehydration, in turn, can lead to premature labor by promoting urine contractions and cramping for the expectant mother. 

If the baby already has life-threatening issues, a stillbirth may occur. And for the mother, dehydration can cause migraine, dizziness, and fainting.

Body temperature

A sunburn causes the same effect as high fever, a heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the body cannot regulate the body temperature due to increased temperature within or outside the body, as in the cases of high fevers and sunburns.

Signs of heatstroke are constant heat flashes and fever, similar to sunburn’s effect on a pregnant woman.

Read: How To Deal with Hair Loss During Pregnancy

How to Prevent Sunburn When Pregnant

Severe sunburn when pregnant can lead to complications if overlooked. Know when to seek help and act accordingly. But here are some DIY tips for dealing with sunburn when pregnant.

1. Stay Hydrated Always

Not just because of the sunburns but as a pregnant woman, you need to stay hydrated as much as possible to aid blood circulation and lower blood pressure. Staying hydrated always helps to keep your skin moisturized and prevent acne.

2. Avoid Peak Temperature

Days, when the sun shines the brightest should not be your favorite days if you want to prevent sunburn. But if you must go out, wear umbrellas and hats and wear clothes that adequately shield your skin from direct sunlight.

3. Sit As Much As Possible

Try to sit as much as possible and avoid activities that wear you out, which may lead to dehydration and migraine.

4. Cover Your Belly Bump 

A protruding belly is at greater risk of sunburn due to the angle from which rays reflect. Additionally, if you want to prevent your linea nigra, or the pregnancy line running up and down your belly from getting darker, wear a one-piece suit or tankini.

5. Use a Sunscreen

This may cause acne if not properly cleaned at the end of the day, so you should use it as a last resort, but it is still a great way of protecting yourself from sunburn.

Sunscreen Safety Tips

Sunscreens are often the best option for blocking UV rays. However, not all sunscreens are recommended for use during pregnancy.

Several studies have shown that the sun’s UV rays can damage the skin. Aside from skin cancer, these rays can cause sunspots and premature aging. As a result, sunscreens are often used to block out these harmful rays.

Sunscreens usually contain oxybenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide to block UV rays. If you are pregnant, you should avoid using oxybenzone. 

The chemical oxybenzone is absorbed into the skin, unlike zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which lie on top of the skin and are thus not absorbed. Oxybenzone is often used to help other chemicals absorb the skin, eventually entering the bloodstream.

Effects of Oxybenzone

According to a report from the Environmental Working Group, many sunscreens, body lotions, lip balms, and lipsticks all contain oxybenzone. Besides causing allergies, oxybenzone also damages cells and disrupts hormones.

One research found traces of oxybenzone in 97% of the participants. The highest concentrations were found among women and girls because they use skincare products more often.

So, read the label to ensure your sunscreen does not list oxybenzone as an ingredient. This harmful chemical can readily be absorbed into your skin and lead to low birth weight. 

Other diseases that are associated with it include coronary heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, oxybenzone interferes with the body’s hormones, leading to developmental problems in unborn children.

Read: How To Reduce Pregnancy Swelling

How to Treat Sunburns

It is difficult to keep all rules when preventing sunburn when pregnant. For instance, you may find yourself outside on a sunny day or choose to get a sunbath after a long week of staying indoors. Sunbathing is normal and needed, but the downside of it is that it can also cause sunburns.

No matter the situation, sunburns aren’t symptoms of a disease and, therefore, can be easily treated. In the following methods, treating sunburns can be done easily.

1. Bath regularly

Sunburn is basically like every other burn, except that it is caused by the sun. This means that your skin hurts from overheating, and what better way to cool it than to take a bath?. 

Increase the number of times you shower in a day to help cool the burning sensation on your skin.

2. Use aloe vera 

Aloe vera gel is a soothing organic gel. It does not react and will not cause any damage to your skin. But rather will soothe and heal the area.

3. Visit a dermatologist in cases of severe sunburn

A severe sunburn can cause blisters on your skin. At this point, a dermatologist will be of great help to you.

Depending on how severe the case may be, your dermatologist should be able to help. Some people also recommend apple cider vinegar, but since it is acidic, it may cause some burning sensation.

4. Drink a lot of water

Drinking enough water when pregnant can never be overemphasized because it tackles half of the problems associated with pregnancy. Drinking water will cool the increased body temperature and induce sweating to cool the burned areas.

It also helps the woman to remain calm to prevent unnecessary worrying that will increase her blood pressure.

5. Stay Calm

Always keep in mind that sunburn is usually only skin deep. Therefore, your burn will likely not affect your unborn child. 

You should contact your doctor if you develop a fever of 100 degrees F or higher after a sunburn. Rest, allow your skin to heal, and avoid further sun exposure until you completely recover.

Read: Feeling Unattractive During Pregnancy (Tips To Help You Cope)

How to Identify a Severe Sunburn

Due to some people’s high threshold for pain, they may not even understand when sunburn is severe. For some, the pain in that area is a red flag, but for others, this pain is mildly felt and, therefore, may require other means of identifying a severe sunburn.

When the sunburn is severe, you will notice the following;

  • Blistering of the outer layer of the skin
  • Deep blistering and scabbing may lead to a skin infection.

When the skin is exposed to harsh UVB rays, the skin releases melanin to protect the skin from damage. This is noticeable in dark-skinned people, and reddening of the skin indicates sunburn for light-skinned people.

It is important to note that not all sunburns are harmful. Mild sunburns heal after a few hours or days of exposure. However, severe sunburns take longer days to heal and sometimes develop into other complications like blistering and skin infection.

Conclusion

Pregnancy doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house and enjoy the sun. A sunburn when pregnant may not always harm the baby, but it should not be overlooked since it goes beyond just skin irritation for pregnant women.

To reduce your risk of problems, you should take the following precautions. You should always wear sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids, wear a hat to protect your face and head, stay out of peak temperatures, sit as much as possible, and finally, go inside if you feel woozy.

Remember, severe sunburn when pregnant can mean serious migraine, cramping, and dizziness for a pregnant mother and be life-threatening for the unborn baby if it triggers urine contractions.