Sunlight When Pregnant - Whether planning to go on a holiday or not, over-exposure to the sun should be avoided during your partner's pregnancy. When pregnant, your partner's hormone shift means that the skin becomes more fragile and more susceptible to the effects of sunlight. Due to the immediate increase in hormone levels, precautions should be taken from the very beginning of a pregnancy.
What is the main danger?
Many women experience dark irregular patches on the skin, caused by the extra hormones and an enzyme called Tyrosinase over-producing melanin which darkens the skin (this is called the 'mask of pregnancy' or to give its proper name, chloasma). This is often a sign that she is particularly sensitive to UV rays from the sun. Luckily, in the vast majority of cases, this skin coloration disappears after the baby is born. For those that are not so lucky, a visit to the dermatologist will help solve the problem after the birth.
What are the dangers to the fetus?
There are insufficient studies to provide a definitive answer to this, but it is generally thought that there are no direct dangers to the developing baby. Having said that, exposure to UV light has been linked to reduced folic acid levels. Folic acid is vital for the early development of the fetus during the first eight to ten weeks and it can be broken down by bright sunlight. Another issue to take into account is overheating and/or dehydration... Lying in the sun can cause the body to overheat, which is not safe for the baby, so if going out into the sun, never allow the body to heat up too much and drink plenty of fluids.
What protection of Sunlight When Pregnant?
- An elevated sun factor cream should be used (factor 10 or above).
- Renew application every 2 hours.
- Avoid exposure to the sun between midday and four in the afternoon. This is when the UV rays from the sun are at their fiercest.
- Avoid using products that are photosensitive such as some body lotions and perfumes.
- Take a large brimmed hat to protect the face and neck.
- If topless sunbathing, apply extra cream to the breasts and nipples (which are more sensitive to UV light due to under exposure.
- Always carry water and stay hydrated.
- Never get overheated.
Can a sun bed be used?
Sun beds carry the same risks as normal sunlight and should probably be avoided during a pregnancy.
What about a fake tan from a bottle?
Again, there have been insufficient studies on this and due to the lack of data, many doctors are now recommending to avoid these chemicals completely during a pregnancy. This is obviously the best approach. Why take any risks for the sake of a sun tan?