Pregnancy and Sun Protection: are things different now?
So you’re pregnant- congrats! It’s all amazing, but there’s probably a billion different questions buzzing around your head. Now the weather is looking up, how the sun affects you differently during pregnancy and sun protection may be some of them. Lets get the low down…
Are you at more risk from the sun during pregnancy?
Pregnancy does make your skin more sensitive so you may be at a greater risk of hives, heat rash or chloasma. Additionally heat can cause dizziness and increase feelings of nausea. With the extra production of hormones your skin is also more susceptible to discoloration.
Of course a little bit of vitamin D can do wonders for your skin and general well-being, experts recommend that 10-15 sun exposure a day without sunscreen 2-3 times per week is plenty.
Make sure to wear sun cream and apply regularly, every 2 hours, and every time after going in the water. Plus try to avoid the sun between 10-2pm when it’s at it’s hottest, stay in the shade and make sure to wear a sun hat.
How do I choose my sunscreen when pregnant?
- Use a high SPF sunscreen (30 or higher) during pregnancy.
- Apply liberally and frequently.
- Do a skin test, as pregnant skin is easily irritated and you may have issues with your usual brand.
- Use a cream not a spray. You don’t want to risk inhaling the spray as potential side affects are not known.
- Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens which offer protection against UVA as well as UVB rays.
What is Pregnancy Mask?
During your pregnancy you are producing a much higher level of oestrogen, as result the rate of melanin synthesis increases. So what does this actually mean for you? Well for some mamas this appears as hyper-pigmentation in the form of brown and greyish spots, most often found in the centre of the forehead, on your chin and sometimes around the mouth. These pigmented patches are usually known as chloasma or the pregnancy mask.
So what can you do about it, and does sun affect this?
Sun exposure does increases the risk of developing this pregnancy mask. Even the normal amount of sun exposure from a mildly pleasant day can cause this overproduction of melanin.
Want to prevent it? We recommend: wearing a hat, protect your skin with full protection sun cream, wearing SPF on your face even on cloudy days, reapply your cream every 2 hours.
In some cases, the ‘pregnancy mask’ is unavoidable, but don’t worry mama it tends to disappear within 6 months of giving birth.
Can I use the sunbeds whilst pregnant?
We absolutely do not recommend using sun beds whilst pregnant. Although there are no studies with conclusive evidence that tanning beds directly harm your baby, like with saunas and hot tubs tanning beds raise your body temperature, and overheating is associated with spinal malformations in new-borns. Add onto that the issues with skin cancer and sunbeds, it’s not something that’s worth the risk.
So what about fake tan during pregnancy? Definitely better than a sunbed, there are however some issues to be aware of. The active ingredient found in most self-tanning lotions is called DHA (dihydroxyacetone). DHA reacts with the amino acids on the top layer of your skin, as a result staining your skin a shade of brown. Although previously DHA has been thought to only dye the surface layer of the skin, there are some reports which show the DHA may enter the bloodstream in very small amounts from topical use.
These results are inconclusive, however we urge you to err on the side of caution. Want a tan for a special occasion? If you are going to use fake tan make sure it’s not a spray-on. If DHA is inhaled it could be absorbed into the bloodstream quicker. Apply with a tanning mitt for the safest option and make sure to do a patch test first as skin tends to be more sensitive during pregnancy.