Sunburn can affect anyone after exposing the skin to excessive UV rays. If getting a tan has culminated in your getting sunburn while pregnant and are now wondering what it means to you and your baby, then this article is for you. We’ll give you a comprehensive insight into all matters sunburn vis-à-vis pregnancy, including treatment.
Sunburn is in simple terms skin damage resulting from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) from the sun. Sunburn results when the level of exposure to UV rays supersedes the ability of melanin (the skin pigment) to protect the skin. It makes the skin appear red and feel warm and sore to touch and in some severe cases, the skin might swell.
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Anyone can get sunburned and pregnant mothers are not an exception. In fact, pregnant mothers are at higher risk of getting sunburned. This is usually attributed to the increased levels of hormones, particularly estrogen, during pregnancy which often makes the skin more sensitive and thus more prone to UV damage.
You are expectant and forgot to protect your skin when sunbathing and are now wondering how to treat sunburn while pregnant.
Avoid further UV damage: It is absolutely important that you avoid exposing your body to further damage by avoiding exposure to the sun. If you have to go outdoors apply a good sunscreen with SPF15 at the very least.
The closer the sunscreen is to SPF 30 the better. Apply the sunscreen at least 2o minutes before going outdoors to allow it time to absorb into the skin and reapply it every 2 hours or so when in the sun.
Over-the-counter pain relievers : Taking OTC painkillers is a popular way to get rid of the pain commonly associated with sunburn. However as the WebMD website says, you should not take any other medicine except acetaminophen (available in drugstores as Tylenol) unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
Keep Cool : Dissipating the heat associated with sunburns helps to soothe the skin while hastening the healing process. To do so, apply cold compresses (washcloths dipped in cool water and wrung to get rid of excess water) for 15 minutes from time to time.
If you want, you can as well cool the sunburned skin by taking tepid baths or showers several times a day. After shower, dry the skin gently by patting it with a clean towel as opposed to rubbing it.
Cool compresses are most effective if applied during the early stages of the sunburn rather than the latter stages.
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Keep moisturized: Sunburn is usually accompanied by loss of body fluids. After getting a cool soak or bath, apply a good water-based lotion all over the affected area of the skin to restore moisture.
A word of caution: NEVER apply butter and petroleum based products such as Vaseline to sunburned skin. This can prevent the dissipation of the heat and worsen the burning.
Aloe vera : Aloe vera helps to cool the sunburned skin while relieving it of the inflammation and promoting its healing. There are many over-the-counter aloe vera gel products available on the market today and the closer a gel is to 100 percent pure aloe vera, the better.
Extra tips for treatment of sunburn during pregnancy:
- Drink plenty of water and fluids
- Get a balanced diet that if rich in veggies, fruits and lean meat
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid irritating the sunburned skin further
- Do not break any blister. If blisters however breaks on their own, use an antibiotic cream such as Polysporin and keep the blisters clean and well dressed with a bandage
- Take an oatmeal bath to soothe itching and inflammation
- Give your skin a milk soak to promote faster healing
- Apply calamine lotion to relieve itching
- Apply raw potato juice on the sunburned area of the skin
- Dilute chamomile in warm water and apply it to the affected area of skin
- Apply cool freshly brewed tea to the skin to soothe the pain and reduce swelling
- See your doctor if the sunburn persists for more than a week or experience symptoms such as fever, chills, or nausea. Pus discharge also warrants the attention of your doctor.
The first thing that comes to the mind of many would-be moms after getting a sunburn is, “is it bad to get sunburned while pregnant?” in most cases worried about the possible impacts of the sunburn to their unborn baby.
Well, sunburn is no good news for pregnant women. While taking a stroll around your neighborhood is good for circulation during pregnancy, forgetting to slather on a sunscreen can set stage for serious problems.
Although the damage to the skin is typically shallow and cannot reach your little angel in the womb, the side effects of severe sunburn can cause undesirable effects to your pregnancy.
To start with, sunburn can steal away the much needed body fluids and cause dehydration. According to The Weather Channel, an individual can lose as much as ½ gallon of body fluids in just 10 minutes at temperatures above 90 degree Fahrenheit.
Dehydration in pregnant women can cause undue increase in the risk of pre-term uterine contractions which can then lead to pre-term labor or miscarriage.
Sunburn also comes with heightened risk of overheating of the body. This happens as a result of decreased ability of the body to regulate its temperature due to the need to release the excess heat. This puts you at risk of developing heat-related ailments such as heatstroke. Increased core temperature can also lead to birth defects.
In more severe cases of sunburn, the core temperature may get raised enough to affect your baby.
Don’t also forget that sunburn increases your risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma). Take into account that skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer in the US, affecting more people than all other forms of cancer combined, and you will see why it is absolutely critical to protect yourself from sunburn whether pregnant or not.
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As you might have already realized already, treating sunburn is as easy as preventing further exposure and dissipating the excess heat from the skin while moisturizing the skin and relieving it of pain, itching, inflammation or any other symptom. We have explored this topic in more details in a previous section of this article.