Summer is quickly approaching, and that means you will spend more time outside. Sunburns can happen to anyone who exposes their skin to UV rays. You might have some questions about sunburn and pregnancy.
Sunburn typically appear on your skin 12 to 24 hours after you expose yourself to excessive UV rays, but you might notice that you have a burn within a few hours.
Pregnant women have an increased risk of sunburn because they have higher levels of hormones. Estrogen, which is particularly high during pregnancy, makes your skin more sensitive and prone to UV damage.
Can a Sunburn Hurt the Baby?
One of your biggest concerns may be can a sunburn hurt the baby? The answer is no because a sunburn only goes skin deep. It cannot directly affect your baby during pregnancy.
A severe sunburn and its side effects could have some unpleasant effects on your pregnancy. The biggest concern is overheating, which is dangerous during pregnancy.
What to Do If You Get a Sunburn While Pregnant
So, you messed up, and you have a sunburn. It's ok! It happens to everyone at some point. Here is what you should do.
Avoid the Sun: The last thing you want to do is expose your sun to more UV rays. Stay indoors or out of the sun as much as possible. If you do have to go outside in the sunlight, apply sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours.
Use Pain Relievers: Sunburns aren’t comfortable. Take OTC painkillers to feel better. Pregnant women can ONLY take Tylenol unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Apply Aloe Vera: Applying aloe vera to your sunburn brings a rush of relief. It helps to cool down your sunburned skin and helps to relieve inflammation.
There are all kinds of products on the market containing aloe vera, but you want as close to 100 percent aloe vera as possible for the best results.
Keep Cool: Keeping the sunburn cool helps to soothe the skin which helps the healing process. Use a cold compress, such as a cold, wet washcloth, for 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day.
You also can take tepid baths or showers. Make sure you pat dry instead of rubbing. Otherwise, it feels like you are ripping off your skin!
Moisturize Often: Sunburns cause you to lose body fluids. You want to apply a water-based lotion to your sunburn to restore moisture to your body. Don’t use petroleum, such as Vaseline, to your burn. It holds in the heat and makes the burn feel worse.
Sunburn and Pregnancy - Causes for Concern
While a sunburn stops at the skin, the side effects could cause some issues. Watch for certain issues to stay as healthy as possible for your baby.
You might feel hot; you do have a burn! Most people don’t get a fever because they have as unburn. The warmth of the skin is due to inflammation rather than a fever.
However, if you have a severe sunburn with skin blister, you might have a fever. A fever is a concern during pregnancy because it can have harmful effects on your baby’s development.
Monitor your fever for the first 24 hours. If the fever goes higher than 100.4 F, make sure you call your OBGYN!
Pregnancy requires an increased amount of fluids. Too much perspiration without replacing those fluids can lead to dehydration.
Sunburns typically don’t cause dehydration, but being in the sun long enough to cause a sunburn could cause dehydration. Staying in temperatures above 90 F can cause you to lose a ½ gallon of body fluids in 10 minutes. You have to be cautious!
Dehydration does put your baby at risk. You have a higher risk of a heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Dehydration can also cause preterm contractions or labor. Watch for signs that something heat-related is wrong.
Hot, dry skin
3. Skin Blisters
Severe sunburns can lead to fluid-filled blisters that make you feel even more miserable. A sunburn with blisters is a second-degree burn, and you need to keep an eye on the blisters. They typically cause fluid loss as they open.
An open blister can easily become infected. Any infection can pose a danger to the mother and baby. If you notice blisters, let your doctor know.
Avoiding a Sunburn
The best thing to do is strive to avoid a sunburn during pregnancy. Always put on sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before you venture outside. Stay in the shade as much as possible. Wear clothing with an SPF rating if you are swimming. Try a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off of your face and shoulders.
Sunburns are no fun, but you don’t have to worry. Chances are your precious baby is fine!