Protecting Your Skin and Your Baby: How to Safely Prevent and Treat Sunburn During Pregnancy

Protecting Your Skin and Your Baby: How to Safely Prevent and Treat Sunburn During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body goes through numerous changes, including increased sensitivity to the sun. It's important to understand the risks and potential complications of sunburn during pregnancy to protect both your skin and your baby's health.

Sunburn occurs when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds. UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells and can lead to painful redness, swelling, and blistering. While anyone can get sunburned, pregnant women are particularly vulnerable due to hormonal changes that make their skin more sensitive.

The Risks and Potential Complications of Sunburn During Pregnancy

Sunburn during pregnancy can have significant risks and potential complications. The most immediate concern is the discomfort and pain associated with sunburn. The burning sensation and inflammation can be particularly distressing for pregnant women. Additionally, severe sunburn can lead to dehydration, which is a serious concern during pregnancy.

Furthermore, sunburn increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Studies have shown that excessive sun exposure during pregnancy can contribute to the development of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Protecting your skin from sunburn now can have long-term benefits for your health and the health of your baby.

Tips for Preventing Sunburn During Pregnancy

Preventing sunburn during pregnancy is crucial. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Seek shade: Avoid direct sunlight, especially during peak hours when the sun's rays are the strongest. Seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or wear protective clothing that covers your skin.

  2. Wear protective clothing: Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms, legs, and neck. Look for clothing with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) to provide an extra layer of protection.

  3. Wear a wide-brimmed hat: Shield your face and neck from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. This will help protect delicate areas that are often more prone to sunburn.

  4. Use UV-blocking sunglasses: Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses with proper UV protection. This will also help prevent the development of cataracts, which is a common concern for pregnant women.

  5. Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: Artificial sources of UV radiation can be just as damaging as natural sunlight. It's best to avoid tanning beds and sunlamps altogether during pregnancy.

Safe Sunscreen Options for Pregnant Women

Choosing the right sunscreen is essential for pregnant women. Look for sunscreens that are safe for both you and your baby. Here are some tips for selecting a safe sunscreen:

  1. Opt for physical sunscreens: Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that sit on top of the skin to block UV rays. They are considered safer than chemical sunscreens, which can potentially be absorbed into the bloodstream.

  2. Check for broad-spectrum protection: Ensure that the sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

  3. Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30: Sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher provide adequate protection against the sun's harmful rays.

  4. Avoid sunscreens with retinyl palmitate: Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A that is commonly found in sunscreens. However, some studies suggest that it may increase the risk of skin cancer when exposed to sunlight.

Natural Remedies for Treating Sunburn During Pregnancy

If you do happen to get sunburned during pregnancy, there are several natural remedies that can help alleviate the discomfort and promote healing:

  1. Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can provide relief from sunburn. Apply pure aloe vera gel to the affected areas for instant cooling and moisturization.

  2. Cool compresses: Apply cool, damp compresses to the sunburned areas to reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. Avoid using ice directly on the skin, as it can cause additional damage.

  3. Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help your body recover from the sunburn. Adequate hydration is essential for pregnant women, especially when dealing with sunburn.

  4. Oatmeal bath: Taking a bath with colloidal oatmeal can help relieve itching and inflammation caused by sunburn. Add a cup of oatmeal to a lukewarm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Sunburn During Pregnancy

In most cases, sunburn during pregnancy can be treated at home with the aforementioned remedies. However, there are instances when medical attention may be necessary. Seek medical attention if:

  1. The sunburn covers a large area of your body or is causing severe pain and discomfort.

  2. You develop fever, chills, or flu-like symptoms after getting sunburned.

  3. The blisters from sunburn burst or become infected.

  4. You experience dizziness, fainting, or signs of dehydration.

It's always better to err on the side of caution and consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your sunburn.

Additional Considerations for Protecting Your Baby's Skin During Pregnancy

While protecting your own skin from sunburn is essential, it's equally important to consider your baby's skin during pregnancy. Here are a few additional considerations:

  1. Avoid excessive heat exposure: Overheating can be harmful to both you and your baby. Avoid spending prolonged periods in hot and humid environments to prevent heat-related complications.

  2. Keep your belly protected: Apply sunscreen to your belly to protect it from the sun's rays. The skin on your belly is more sensitive and prone to developing stretch marks, which can worsen with sun exposure.

  3. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is crucial for your baby's health and development. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain optimal hydration levels.

Sun Protection Tips for Pregnant Women

In addition to sunscreen, there are other sun protection measures you can take to safeguard your skin and your baby's skin during pregnancy:

  1. Plan outdoor activities wisely: Schedule outdoor activities early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun's rays are less intense.

  2. Check the UV index: Before heading outside, check the daily UV index. A high UV index indicates a higher risk of sunburn and skin damage.

  3. Reapply sunscreen frequently: Even if you're using a high SPF sunscreen, it's important to reapply it every two hours or more frequently if you're sweating or swimming.

  4. Cover up with clothing: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin and provides an additional barrier against the sun.

Recommended Products for Sun Protection During Pregnancy

When it comes to sun protection during pregnancy, choosing the right products can make a significant difference. Here are some recommended products:

  1. Physical sunscreens: Look for physical sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, such as Brand X Mineral Sunscreen.

  2. Wide-brimmed hats: Invest in a wide-brimmed hat with UPF protection to shield your face and neck from the sun.

  3. UPF clothing: Consider purchasing clothing with a high UPF rating, like Brand Y Sun-Protective Clothing. These garments provide an extra layer of sun protection.


Protecting your skin and your baby's skin from sunburn is crucial during pregnancy. By understanding the risks, taking preventive measures, and using safe sunscreen options, you can minimize the chances of sunburn and its potential complications. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about sunburn or if you experience severe symptoms. By prioritizing sun protection, you can enjoy a safe and healthy pregnancy while keeping your skin and your baby's skin protected.