Pregnancy can be an exciting and joyful experience, yet it often comes with its own set of unexpected difficulties, including sunburns.
Sunburn during pregnancy is not only a painful experience, but it can also present serious risks to the mother and her unborn child. It can be potentially dangerous if not taken seriously.
This article covers the possible risks of sunburn during pregnancy, preventive measures, and actions to take when it does happen.
Risks of Sunburn During Pregnancy
Sunburn happens when sunlight, which contains UV radiation, comes in contact with the skin for too long a period of time.
Sunburns are a common occurrence and can be easily identified by red, swollen, and painful skin.
In extreme cases, blisters, fever, and chills may even accompany it. Although anyone can suffer from sunburns but pregnant women have to take extra caution as they may be at a greater risk.
Hormonal fluctuations can be commonly seen as the primary offender behind the emergence of certain symptoms.
During pregnancy, the body naturally produces more melanin, which is responsible for giving the skin its color. However, this hormone can also make it more vulnerable to UV radiation and harmfully impact your skin if overexposed to sunlight – leading to sunburns.
Pregnant women must be particularly careful in the sun since their bodies produce more blood during pregnancy, which makes it harder to regulate temperature and can easily lead to dehydration or overheating. Therefore, they should limit their exposure when possible and stay hydrated.
Sunburns can be harmful to the baby in an expecting mother’s womb. UV radiation has the capability to penetrate the skin and potentially damage the unborn child’s DNA. This could lead to certain birth defects, such as cleft palate or spina bifida.
Prevention of Sunburn During Pregnancy
While pregnant, it is important to take extra care and precaution in order to avoid sunburn. Here are some helpful tips that can help protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun:
1. Stay in the shade
When outdoors, try to stay in the shade as much as possible; it significantly reduces exposure to harmful UV radiation.
2. Wear protective clothing
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs. A wide-brimmed hat can also help protect your face and neck.
3. Use sunscreen
Make sure to protect yourself from the sun’s rays by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Don’t forget to slather it on your face, neck, and ears. It is recommended that you reapply the sunscreen every two hours, or even more often if you are swimming or sweating.
4. Avoid the hottest parts of the day
UV radiation is strongest during the middle of the day, so try planning your outdoor activities either before 10 am or afterward 4 pm. This will help protect you and your family from potential health risks associated with too much sun exposure.
5. Take breaks indoors
To avoid overheating and dehydration, take frequent breaks if you’re spending a lot of time outdoors. A few minutes indoors in the cool air will go a long way to ensure your comfort and health.
Treatment of Sunburn During Pregnancy
Even with precautionary measures, it’s still possible to get sunburned when pregnant. To ease the discomfort and stop potential issues from arising, here are some steps you can take if you do find yourself in this situation.
1. Cool down
To reduce inflammation and ease discomfort, taking a cool bath or shower or applying cool compresses to the affected area can provide relief.
To alleviate itching, it may help to apply a moisturizing cream or lotion to the area that is affected. This can help hydrate the skin and bring relief from discomfort.
3. Stay hydrated
Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. This will help replace all the liquids lost through perspiration and keep you away from getting dehydrated.
4. Take pain relievers
Acetaminophen and similar OTC medications can provide relief from pain and reduce fever levels.
5. Avoid further sun exposure
It’s best to stay out of direct sun exposure until your sunburn has healed. If you’re required to go outdoors, make sure you wear protective clothing and use sunscreen with a high SPF value.
When to Seek Medical Attention?
Sunburns can easily be taken care of at home by using the solutions discussed above.
In certain situations, sunburn can become severe and medical support is necessary.
If you experience any of these signs, make sure to contact your doctor immediately:
1. Severe pain
If your sunburn is very painful or if it feels worse over time, you should see a doctor for treatment. Don’t hesitate to get medical attention to avoid further damage or discomfort caused by sunburn.
If you are experiencing blisters, then this could be a sign of severe sunburn and can cause the risk of infection to rise. In such a case, it is advisable to visit a medical professional straight away.
If you experience a fever, it could be indicative of an infection. In such a case, it’s vital to get in touch with your healthcare provider if the temperature is over 100.4°F (38°C).
It’s important to be aware of any potential causes of severe headaches. If you have a headache that won’t go away with OTC pain relievers, it could be a sign of dehydration or other underlying health issues, so it’s best to get medical attention as soon as possible.
5. Nausea or vomiting
If you experience constant nausea and vomiting, it could be an indication of dehydration or some other health issues. To be on the safe side, visit a doctor and get it checked out.
Women who are expecting should take extra precautions in the sun to prevent sunburn.
This could include seeking shelter in the shade, putting on breathable clothes that offer UV protection, and liberally applying sunscreen to exposed areas of the skin.
Sunburns can be a nuisance and there are techniques to help ease the discomfort. But if the symptoms are serious or don’t seem to improve, you should visit a doctor for proper medical care.
It’s important to handle sunburns immediately, in order to reduce your risk of further complications.
It is important to practice caution when in direct sunlight and seek medical attention right away if necessary.