Pregnancy Tanning-Is It Safe?

Now, that's a question women who are pregnant want a clear answer to in order to ensure the safety of their unborn baby. Let's face it, most people really like the look of a tan. Someone once said that "brown fat is healthier than white fat," (a different twist on healthy foods) so it's fine to lay in the sun. A tan can make a person look fantastic by emphasizing muscles and setting off color in clothing. There's benefit, too, because the best source of vitamin D is the sun.

Tans Look Good But Are They Safe

However, (yes, there's always a "but") there is still plenty of information around concerning the negative side of tanning. During pregnancy many women find their skin is more sensitive and therefore more susceptible to sunburn. Skin pigmentation issues crop up during pregnancy because the amount of melanocyte-stimulating hormone is higher causing more pigmentation. Chloasma, otherwise known as pregnancy mask, is an indication that skin is extremely sensitive so spending too much time in the sun is probably not a good idea. Additionally, excessive heat from lying in the sun can cause dehydration and overheating, neither of which is good for mother or baby.

Tanning Beds Are Not Safe

Perhaps the more dangerous place to get a tan is from a tanning bed. While limited time in a tanning bed can be useful, most commercial tanning beds can be a dangerous place-pregnant or not. The potential problems associated with tanning beds include hazardous x-rays that are emitted by the end portions of the bulbs; electromagnetic field rays which are also emitted by the bulbs; and the obvious hygiene concerns. The industry continues to produce bulbs that are better at reducing risk, but there is still a long way to go for tanning beds to be a very healthy alternative to sunshine.

Benefits of A Tan

So, is there any good to be gained from playing in the sun while pregnant? Definitely, yes. Sunlight is comprised of two ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. The UVB rays of the sun enable the skin to manufacture up to 80 percent of the vitamin D necessary for health. In the United States, recent research indicated an alarming deficit of vitamin D in the population. The panic over skin cancer several years ago introduced hyper-protection through chemical skin barriers (sun protection creams) and as a result there is an increase in bone problems that can easily be solved with a few minutes in the sun every day.

Just Be Wise When Tanning

That is not to say that spending the day in the sun without protection is totally safe-it isn't. However, getting adequate vitamin D through the natural source of the sun is a good idea. Simply spending fifteen minutes exposing the face, chest, arms and hands to the sun can supply the healthiest level of vitamin D for the body. The early morning sun is the best, before it gets very hot. Proper hydration is necessary as well.

If having skin that looks like a dark chocolate bar is the only thing that will make you feel good, then check out the myriad instant tanning creams available. Just be sure to do a skin test to determine whether pregnancy has made the skin hypersensitive.

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