Pregnancy can be an exciting and beautiful experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the things that pregnant women need to be aware of is the increased risk of sunburn when pregnant. While a sunburn may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can have potentially serious consequences for both the mother and the unborn baby if not handled correctly.

Here are some important things to know about dealing with and avoiding sunburn while pregnant:

Pregnant Women Are More Susceptible to Sunburns

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes, including changes to her skin. These changes can make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays, increasing the risk of sunburn. In addition to becoming more prone to sunburn, pregnancy hormones cause pigment-producing cells in a pregnant woman to kick into high gear. This may result in an increased number of freckles or skin discoloration. Additionally, excessive exposure to the sun can lead to premature aging of the skin and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Dehydration and UV Rays

The main danger that pregnant women face from sunburn is dehydration. Increased rates of urination and sweating while being out in the sun can cause pregnant women to dehydrate at a faster rate than the average person. Dehydration is a serious condition on its own and can contribute to the risk of heat stroke.

Additionally, prolonged exposure to UV rays can break down an expectant mother’s stores of folic acid, which can cause birth defects in early pregnancy.

Woman drinking water

Prevention is Key

To avoid getting sunburned while pregnant, take preventative measures! 

Stay out of the sun as much as possible, especially during peak hours. 

Protect your skin by wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and hats. Wear sunscreen! Choose a sunscreen spray or lotion that uses zinc oxide but is free of oxybenzone. Oxybenzone should be avoided because, unlike zinc oxide, it eventually absorbs into the skin and enters the bloodstream. Make sure your sunscreen has an SPF rating of 30 or higher and remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Lastly, do everything you can to stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water, or a drink filled with electrolytes, will help you avoid dehydration. 

Pregnant woman applying sunscreen

Treating Sunburn at Home

If you do get sunburned while pregnant, there are several things you can do to relieve any discomfort. 

Applying cool compresses to the affected areas can help reduce swelling and inflammation, and drinking plenty of water can also help to rehydrate the body. You can also apply apple cider vinegar or an aloe vera gel if you prefer. 

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, can be used to relieve pain, but it’s important to avoid using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, as they can be harmful to the baby.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you develop a severe sunburn, it’s important to seek medical attention. Signs of a severe sunburn include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and severe pain. These symptoms can indicate a more serious condition, such as sun poisoning, which requires medical treatment.

When pregnant, it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution! That being said, if you feel that any medical condition you’re dealing with, including sunburn while pregnant, seek professional help from a trusted physician immediately. 

Village Emergency Can Help

In conclusion, it’s important for pregnant women to take preventative measures to avoid sunburns and to seek medical attention if they develop a severe sunburn. By taking the precautions above, pregnant women can enjoy the sun safely and without risking their health or the health of their unborn baby.

In the event that you are dealing with sunburn while pregnant, you can always take the road to Village for help. Our emergency facilities and board-certified physicians are equipped to give you the care you deserve and the peace of mind you need when it matters more. Visit our website to find your Village today!