If you usually use a tanning bed to keep your tan topped up, you might be wondering if it’s safe to use a tanning bed while pregnant.
Pregnancy hormones cause skin changes during pregnancy. You might have noticed your skin looks healthier during pregnancy; many women experience this sought-after pregnancy glow. However, not all women experience positive skin changes during pregnancy.
Some women notice an increase in acne during pregnancy and others notice darker patches of skin appearing. If these darker patches of skin appear on your face, it’s called chloasma and might be an indication that tanning will cause further dark patches to appear.
Is it safe to use tanning bed while pregnant?
Although there is no definitive pregnancy-specific research to determine the safety of sunbeds during pregnancy, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Experts advise against the use of tanning beds generally, so it’s highly unlikely they would be considered safe during pregnancy.
Sun beds and folic acid
Although the science is far from clear-cut, some studies have indicated that exposure to UV light could be a contributing factor in folic acid deficiency. UV rays break down folic acid and prevent the body from getting all it needs from this essential vitamin. There isn’t enough science to say for sure that this happens but it is considered by experts to be another good reason to avoid tanning beds during pregnancy.
You can find out more about this here.
Sunstroke and overheating while pregnant
One of the things you need to be careful of during pregnancy is overheating. Pregnant women are advised to avoid saunas and hot tubs, to reduce the risk of overheating.
You might find you are more sensitive to the heat during pregnancy, too, so it’s especially important to take precautions and keep yourself safe. Too much sun exposure can cause overheating and indoor tanning beds come with the same risk.
For this reason, many women choose to skip tanning beds during pregnancy. The tanning salon probably isn’t the best place for you if you’re trying to stay cool, so you might be better off switching to a fake tan for the duration of your pregnancy.
Tanning beds, UV Exposure and melanoma
Tanning beds emit ultraviolet rays (UV rays) and are just as harmful as tanning in the sun. In fact, they can sometimes be more harmful as they might give out a higher dose of UV rays than natural sunlight does.
Tanning beds increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, which is considered the most harmful type of skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, using tanning beds increases your risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 58% and basal cell carcinoma by 24%.
Indoor tanning beds emit harmful UV radiation that can increase your risk of skin cancer and cause premature aging. Commercial tanning beds have already been outlawed in Australia in a bid to slash skin cancer rates. Other countries, however, are yet to take such drastic action.
It’s all too easy to get sunburnt while using a tanning bed, and hormonal changes during pregnancy might put you at an increased risk of this. Your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and you might burn more easily, which makes a trip to the tanning salon riskier than normal.
Alternatives to tanning beds
Don’t worry, avoiding the solarium for nine months doesn’t mean you need to lose your golden glow. Self-tanning lotions are the perfect alternative to a tanning bed tan, and you won’t have any UV rays to worry about.
Are fake tans pregnancy-safe?
Yes, it’s safe to use self-tanning lotions during pregnancy. In fact, a self-tanner is a much better option than sun exposure or a tanning bed. The active ingredient in self-tanners is dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a non-toxic substance that reacts with cells in the outermost layer of skin. The DHA isn’t absorbed further into your body and won’t warm your unborn baby.
The only risk is a potential allergic reaction. Although it’s rare, pregnant women might experience skin changes that make them more susceptible to skin reactions. To reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, make sure you do a patch test with the product before using it for the first time.
Can I get a spray tan while pregnant?
There’s no science on this, but it’s generally best to avoid spray tans during pregnancy because the risks of inhaling the products are unknown. Although spray tans rely on the same chemical compounds as fake tan creams, the spraying involved in the treatment increases your risk of inhaling the product.
Pregnancy and tanning pills
Tanning pills are illegal in many countries, due to the risks associated with these pills. Tanning pills contain a toxic chemical called canthaxanthin or beta-carotene to give the skin a tanned look.
When excessive amounts of beta-carotene build up in the body, however, it can cause severe health conditions including nausea, cramps and diarrhoea.
Skin can become dry and itchy, which might then lead to further skin reaction.
Beta-carotene can also cause aplastic anemia, a condition that can harm your unborn baby. For this reason, you should never take tanning pills during pregnancy.
Spending time in the sun during pregnancy
Pregnancy doesn’t mean you need to stay cooped up indoors for nine months. In fact, it could do you some good to get outdoors. There are lots of benefits to spending time in nature, breathing in fresh air and exercising outdoors.
Here are some precautions to help you stay safe during pregnancy:
If you’re going outside in the heat, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. A large sun hat will cover your face from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Wear loose clothing that covers your skin, so you don’t have to worry about skin damage while spending time outside.
Be sure to cover yourself with sunscreen, too. Remember, your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy so it’s important to take extra precautions. Mineral sunscreens are best during pregnancy as they create a barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays. Mineral sunscreens are usually white and chalky in appearance and usually protect your skin for longer.
If you’re outside on a warm day, you’ll need to drink extra water to stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of cold water with you so you can drink regularly throughout the day. Ice lollies made from real fruit are another great way to stay hydrated.
Take regular breaks
When you’ve been in the sun too long, your body temperature rises. Make sure you take regular breaks indoors to keep yourself cool. The freezer aisle at your local grocery store is always worth a visit on a hot day.
To find out more about beauty treatments, you can read BellyBelly’s article:
Gel nails while pregnant