Why are Pregnant People so Susceptible to Sunburn? 

What to Expect In the 12th Week of Your Twin Pregnancy
Whether your summer vacation involves lounging on a beach with a cold drink in hand, exploring a new international city, or being at one with nature on an outdoor excursion, one thing to be aware of is that during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of sunburn. When your skin is exposed to too much of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and you aren’t wearing sunscreen or protective clothing, the risk of sunburn is likely. While sunburn may cause slight irritation for some, it can be more serious for a pregnant person and the fetus. We’ve asked the team at Your Baby Club to share insight into why, during pregnancy, people are more susceptible to sunburn and why they need to be extra careful when outside.          
Photo by: Erica Grace
  Why is sunburn so dangerous during pregnancy?  If you’re pregnant, you need to be cautious when spending time outdoors in the summer months and avoid long exposure to the sun, as severe sunburn can cause further issues to you and your unborn child. A mild burn, such as turning slightly red, isn’t too much of a concern, but when the skin becomes blistered, you should seek further medical advice. It is very rare for sunburn to have a direct impact on the unborn baby, but dehydration caused by sunburn can be a real cause of concern. Sunburn can cause the skin to become inflamed, feel tender and itchy, and cause fatigue, nausea, and dehydration. Dehydration can lower the body’s amniotic fluid levels, which can impact the baby’s development and increase the risk of early labor. Stay hydrated with liquids, and if needed, an IV drip can also help with hydration and increase vitamins and nutrients in the body. Sunburn can cause an increase in your body temperature, which puts you at risk of overheating and can result in further heat-related illnesses. When pregnant, it’s more difficult for the body to regulate its temperature for you and your unborn child. So, it’s important to be aware of the signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, which include dizziness, confusion, fatigue and lack of appetite, excessive sweating, fast breathing, and high temperature. Are pregnant people so susceptible to sunburn?  During pregnancy, there is a heightened risk of sunburn, as the increase in hormone levels causes the skin to become sensitive and burn more easily. Your pregnancy hormones will make your skin more sensitive to all sorts of different things, from sunlight to perfumed products, chlorine, heat, and in some cases, food. Long exposure to the sun’s UV rays makes pregnant people more at risk of developing chloasma. This condition is also known as melasma and is when the skin becomes darker in certain areas, forming dark, brown patches, mainly on the forehead, nose, and cheek areas. This condition is caused by a combination of sun exposure and pregnancy. When pregnant, the skin becomes more elasticated to stretch for your growing bump and breasts. As the skin stretches, it becomes more sensitive to touch and to the sun, resulting in itchy and burning sensations. It’s important, throughout summer, to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays by covering your body, wearing a hat and lightweight clothing, sitting in the shade or under an umbrella, wearing a high-factor sunscreen, and avoiding the sun’s peak hours. What steps can you take to prevent sunburn? 
  1. Find the right sun cream for you 
During pregnancy, your skin becomes more sensitive to products that normally wouldn’t cause any irritation. This is because your usual sunscreen may contain ingredients such as oxybenzone or homosalate, which can be absorbed into your skin and cause irritation. In order to avoid this unnecessary symptom, be sure to source a product free from these harsh chemicals and any synthetic fragrances.
  1. Wear an SPF with a high factor
Your sunscreen should be at least an SPF 30, but we recommend that you use a factor 50 for more protection. It’s also important to find a product that is water-resistant and make sure that you re-apply it every two hours or straight after leaving the water.
  1. Stay inside 
It’s a given that staying inside can help you to prevent sunburn, but it’s important to mention that, during pregnancy, you should spend as little time in the sun as possible. As your risk of sunburn increases so does your chance of dehydration, fatigue, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. So, when possible, protect yourself by staying indoors and creating a cool environment by purchasing a fan, keeping the blinds closed, and doing minimal chores.
  1. Avoid peak hours 
The sun’s rays are the strongest between 11 am and 4 pm, so you should limit your time spent outdoors during this period. When heading outdoors during peak hours, keep your skin covered and make sure that you are wearing sun protection.
  1. Apply plenty of sunscreen  
If you don’t apply enough sunscreen in the right places, the possibility of burning increases. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to hard-to-reach places like your back and shoulders, the bottoms of your feet and easily forgotten places like your scalp, forehead, and ears.
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