When you become pregnant, you might notice that your skin burns a little quicker, dries out a little faster, and breaks out a little more than before you were pregnant. Unfortunately, thanks to hormones, your skin undergoes many changes during those nine-plus months. If you're a sun worshiper, however, you wonder if you sunburn more easily when pregnant or if your sunscreen has just expired.
According to The Bump, you may be more sensitive to sun when pregnant. Why? Well, thanks to the surging hormones, you may be more susceptible to dark patches on the skin known as melasma. Additoinally, according to Parents, pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes, kick into overdrive when you're pregnant, making you more susceptible to other forms of discoloration when exposed to UV rays.
Another reason that the sun might be more harmful to you while pregnant is because sunbathing can drain the body of much-needed fluids, which causes dehydration and overheating, according to BabyMed. When you're pregnant, denying fluids to your body can cause undue stress and possibly lead to pre-term contractions. An overheated body can also have an increase in core temperature, which BabyMed noted could cause birth defects.
But burns and dehydration aren't the only risk. You might also risk developing skin cancer if you don't properly protect yourself during pregnancy. "Pregnancy alters your immune system, which may put you at a higher risk of developing skin cancer if you don't take precautions," Ava Shamban, M.D., dermatologist and author of Heal Your Skin, told Parents. "Your skin is your first line of defense against the sun, so it's essential to protect it with an SPF cream."
Because of this moms-to-be are advised to stay out of the sun as much as possible while pregnant because. If, however, you just can't avoid the sun, then you need to look into alternative forms of protection.
"The safest sun protection to use during pregnancy is physical or mineral blocks—the ones made with either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide,” Melissa Schweiger, coauthor of Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom, and Baby, told The Bump. "Chemical sunscreens, such as oxybenzone, homosalate and avobenzone, can potentially irritate the skin and have higher risks associated with them."
In order to protect your sensitive pregnancy skin, you have to choose the right sunscreen. According to the aforementioned Parents article, you'll want to pick something that guards against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher. You'll also want to steer clear of chemical sunscreens and buy physical blockers. And, of course, reapply sunscreen every three hours, more often if you're sweating, and after you swim.
Besides applying sunscreen throughout the day and making sure that you stay hydrated, there are a few other things you can do to keep your sun-sensitive skin out of the spotlight while pregnant. You should try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are at their strongest. You should also wear large brimmed hats, which can provide sun protection to the face, shoulders, and neck area, and sunglasses, which help you reduce damage to the eyes, while outdoors.
With skin sensitivities increasing during pregnancy, you'll want to make sure you take every precaution against any possible sun damage. A good SPF regimen should be paired with adequate hydration and covering up whenever you're in the sun. That way, as your baby grows inside your belly, you're protecting them as well as yourself.