Pregnancy and sun protection
In recent years, more and more attention is paid to the "dark side" of the sun and the daily need for protection from its rays. The sun is defined as the main culprit of skin aging and the appearance of skin cancer, as well as a predisposing factor for some complications during pregnancy.
A study of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in London has shown that uncontrolled sun exposure during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Scientists justify their observations with the ability of ultraviolet radiation to destroy stocks of folic acid in the mother's body, and also with the negative consequences in case of sunstroke or burning.
Future mothers should protect themselves from the scorching sun for another reason, too. Because of the constantly changing hormonal levels, UVA and UVB rays stimulate melanogenesis especially strong during pregnancy. As a result of the formation of this "tandem", on the faces of nearly 70% of pregnant women appear pigment spots with varied shapes and sizes bearing the medical term chloasma or melasma.
What sunscreen products to choose?
The market offers a variety of cosmetics for sun protection and most of them do have their merits. Experts, however, determine the photoprotectors with broad-spectrum action that block both UVB and UVA rays as the most efficient ones.
From the viewpoint of safety, on the other hand, recommended are the so called physical sunscreens that filter UV radiation by using compounds such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
It is better to choose a product with a high SPF, but you should still not succumb to unrealistic sense of safety. Although specialized cosmetic products with SPF 30, 50 or 100 block an extremely high percentage of the UVB rays (97, 98 and 99% respectively), they cannot ensure your complete safety if you do not apply them correctly or rely solely on them.
To avoid the negative aspects of sun exposure it is necessary to:
- apply the protective cream at least 15 minutes before you go outside
- anoint your skin everywhere, as clothes let part of the UV radiation through
- reapply the sunscreen every 2-3 hours (especially if swimming)
- store the product appropriately and keep track of its expiration date
- keep in mind that water, sand, snow and asphalt reflect sunlight and thus increase the likelihood of skin burns
- protect your head and eyes with hat and sunglasses
- wear clothes that do not attract sunlight and do not prevent heat loss
- drink enough water to prevent your body from dehydration;
- consume more fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids, such as apricots and carrots, which provide natural sun protection
- limit your stay outdoors between 10 and 4 pm.
During pregnancy, not recommended are:
- chemical sunscreens acting on the principle of absorption, especially those containing oxybenzone. There is evidence that this chemical passes through the skin and interacts with the maternal hormones, provoking difficulties in the development of the baby
- products in spray bottles, as some seemingly harmless ingredients can become dangerous if inhaled in large concentrations
- sunscreens that contain preservatives, such as parabens, which are known to mimic the sex hormone estrogen
After all the recommendations for sun protection, we should nevertheless remind you that as dangerous as it can be, the sun could be very beneficial, as well! It is therefore important to spend a few minutes a day, early in the morning, under the sun to get the needed by yourself and your baby daily dose of vitamin D. Moderate sun exposure without any sunscreen is a prerequisite for proper development of the bones, the immune and the endocrine system of the baby, and as surprising as it sounds, it prevents the destructive effects of ultraviolet rays themselves.