Posts Tagged ‘sunburn’

Get outdoors but know how to protect yourself

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Family walking outdoorsTomorrow is National Get Outdoors Day. Now that the weather has warmed up, getting outside is a welcomed change in most parts of the country.

But getting outdoors has its own set of challenges – from bug bites to sunburn. Here’s a quick rundown on how to stay safe when heading outdoors, especially if you’re pregnant.

Bugs that bite and spread diseases

Ticks – In many areas of the country, especially wooded areas or places with high grass, Lyme disease is spread by ticks. Untreated Lyme disease can have cause complications during pregnancy.

Mosquitos – If you’re traveling, be sure to check the CDC’s map to see if the Zika virus is active in the area where you are heading. The Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids like blood or semen. If you’re pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area. Zika virus during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

What should you do?

Use an insect repellant (a product that keeps insects from biting you), like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (also called EPA). All EPA-registered bug sprays and lotions are checked to make sure they’re safe and work well.

Make sure the product contains one or more of these substances that are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535 and 2-undecanone. If the product contains DEET, make sure it has at least 20 percent (20%) DEET.

Don’t put bug spray or lotion on your skin under clothes. If you use sunscreen, put it on before the spray or lotion.

If you have children: Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older, but don’t use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years. Don’t put the spray or lotion on your baby’s hands or near her eyes or mouth. Don’t put the spray or lotion on cut, sore or sensitive skin.

Protect yourself from the sun

Nothing will stop your outdoor fun faster than a nasty sunburn. Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

What can you do?

Before heading outside, lather up with a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Use only products that have UVA and UVB or Broad Spectrum protection products. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors and reapply every 2 hours.

If you’re sensitive to sunscreens, try one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as they are not as irritating to the skin. You can also cover up by wearing long sleeves and pants, and a wide brimmed hat.

Don’t use products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. It’s important to reapply sunblock every two hours. If you use a combination product, you’ll be reapplying the bug repellant chemicals as well – not good. Too much bug repellant can be toxic. So, to be on the safe side, keep these products separate, or use the combination product once, and then apply sunblock only every two hours afterward.

Don’t choose a product with retinyl palmitate, especially if you are pregnant. This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with birth defects.

Check the expiration date and don’t use it if it is expired. If your sunscreen does not have a date, write one on your bottle after purchasing. Sunscreens retain their original strength for three years.

Here are tips for keeping your baby safe while outdoors.

With a little planning and care, you can get outdoors and enjoy yourself tomorrow. Enjoy!

 

Sunscreen safety for pregnant women

Friday, June 6th, 2014

mom and child in sunSummer is here! Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

There are two types of rays that can cause skin damage. These are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation (UVA and UVB). Both of these can cause premature aging and skin cancer however UVB rays are what cause sunburn. It is important to choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. But, choosing the right sunscreen to slather on can be confusing.

Here are tips on choosing the right sunscreen for you:

•    Avoid retinyl palmitate This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with a risk of birth defects.
•    Choose sunscreen with a sun protected factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
•    Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection – also called Broad Spectrum protection
•    Use a water resistant sunscreen if you intend to go swimming
•    Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating (even if you use water resistant sunscreen).
•    Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun rays are most intense.

Combination products

To fend off those pesky mosquitoes, there are also combination sunscreen products that include bug spray. These can be  great two-for-one products, but combination sunscreens may be more hazardous that you thought. A combination product has the possibility of toxic exposure, due to overdosing on the bug repellant. It’s safe to apply the combination lotion first, but when it’s time to reapply, skip the combination and just use sunscreen.

Read our post for specific tips on how to keep your baby safe in the sun.

Have fun outside this summer, but wear your hat, sunglasses, stay well hydrated and remember your sunscreen!

Tanning without the sun

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

suntanIt’s almost summer and the bathing suits, sleeveless tops and shorts are coming out. Many of us want to lose winter’s pale but worry about the dangers of exposing ourselves to too much sun. Self-tanning creams help to give you that sun-kissed glow without being exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays.

The active ingredient in self-tanners that makes your skin darker is dihydroxyacetone (DHA). (This is not the same DHA that is an omega-3 fatty acid found in some foods and dietary supplements.) DHA usually comes from plants and has been approved for use as a self-tanner by the Food and Drug Administration since the 1970s.

According to MotherToBaby, a service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS): “There is no published information suggesting that using self-tanners during pregnancy causes birth defects. When self-tanners are used, it is thought that only very small amounts of DHA are absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Therefore, very little DHA would be available to get to the baby if it does cross the placenta.”

But be careful if you are getting a spray-tan. The fumes from the spray are likely to be inhaled which means that more DHA could be absorbed into your system. You may want to request a mask to cover your mouth, nose, and eyes to prevent any inhalation.

You can read the complete fact sheet about self-tanners on the MotherToBaby website. Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so as always, make sure you talk to your health care provider.

It’s important to remember that while the self-tanners may keep you from looking like Casper the friendly ghost, they do not protect you from the sun’s rays. Whenever you do go out into the sun, be sure to slather on the sunblock!

Weekend fun in the sun

Friday, May 24th, 2013

hatsThis weekend will you be where the weather’s warm, the sun is shining, the kids want to run around and play with the hose? (Doesn’t it feel great to get away from freezing winter?!) Don’t forget that most of us are pale from winter hibernation and are ripe for sizzling in the sun.

Here’s the pitch for today: don’t forget the sun block. I know, everybody’s talking about that right now, and they should ‘cause it’s important. We have written about the importance of using sun block before, about using one with SPF 30 and replacing it every couple of hours, etc. But this time I want to remind you while you slather on the goop to be sure to protect your children’s ears. We always get the cheeks, nose shoulders and arms, but sometimes the ears are bypassed. Wide brimmed hats are great but often get pulled off by tots, and caps will leave the ears exposed to the sun’s scorching rays. And, by the way, this goes for you, too.

If you’re pregnant, your sensitive skin might burn more easily. Read these tips and relax and enjoy the warmer weather… and don’t forget to protect your ears!

Sunscreen ingredients to avoid

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

sunburned-lady1Most experts discourage tanning whether you’re pregnant or not. When your skin tans, it’s trying to protect itself from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These UV rays are hard on your skin because they:
• Increase the risk of skin cancer
• Give you a bad burn if you’re exposed to them for too long
• Increase signs of aging

UV rays are bad for everyone, but sunbathing is especially bad if you’re pregnant. Often, your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy, so you may burn easily. Sitting under the hot sun (or in a tanning bed) for a long time may make you overheated or lose body fluids (dehydrated). Both of these methods of tanning are bad for your growing baby. Also, UV rays may break down folic acid, an important vitamin that helps your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop.

So, if you are going to be out in the sun, what should you do?

Choose a sunscreen that does not contain retinyl palmitate, has an SPF higher than 15 (30 and up is better), and has UVA and UVB protection. If you are going to be going swimming or sweating a lot, then use one that is also “water resistant.”

Why not retinyl palmitate?

Consumer Reports (an independent rating company), conducted tests and suggest that pregnant women avoid sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate, a type of topical vitamin A.  Retinyl palmitate “is an antioxidant that animal studies have linked to an increased risk of skin cancers. In skin, it converts readily to retinoids, associated with a risk of birth defects in people using acne medications containing them.”  To help you choose the product that is right for you, read the article on sunscreens as tested by Consumer Reports.

What about sunscreens that are also insect repellants?

Applying one lotion that protects against sunburn as well as bug bites sounds like a nifty idea. But, beware of using products that contain both sunscreen and bug repellant.  When you re-apply the product, you may be exposing yourself to too much bug repellant, which can be toxic.  Please read the warnings of using these kinds of combination products.

With a little knowledge and label reading, you will be able tosunburned-lady choose a product that protects you from too much sun exposure and is also safe.  Then, you can relax and enjoy your summer days in the sun.

Sunscreen labels to be simpler

Monday, August 1st, 2011

sunburned-ladyWe’ve all heard the warnings about getting too much sun, and how you should use sunscreen.  So, in preparation for my family summer vacation, I went to my local pharmacy to pick up a bottle or two.  I was bombarded by so many varieties that I stood there for nearly 20 minutes trying to figure out what to buy. In addition to the many levels of SPF, there were many descriptions to consider, such as “water resistant,” “waterproof,” “sweat resistant,” “ultra sweatproof”, etc.  Yikes! It was such an overload of information that even I was stunned by it (and I like this sort of geeky, health care kind of stuff!).

So, I decided to do a little bit of research to try to get to the “bottom line.” It was then that I found out that last month the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed the labeling rules to make them more simple. (Please see their press release and this Medscape article for more info.) Manufacturers will have about a year to change their labels.

In the meantime, here is a short lesson on sunburn jargon…

There are two types of rays that cause skin damage – ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB). Both can cause premature aging and skin cancer, however, UVB rays are what cause sunburn. In order to be adequately protected, you need a sunscreen that protects against both kinds of rays.  With the new rules, manufacturers may only label a sunscreen as “broad-spectrum” if it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF ratings refer to the protection factor from sunburn rays (UVB) and don’t protect you from the UVA rays – the higher the number, the more protection against sunburn. Think of it as your skin needing a thicker coating of the lotion in order to be sure that you don’t burn. You should use an SPF of at least 15. Anything less than that does not provide adequate protection. Under the new rules, the FDA is considering limiting SPF numbers to 50, as they do not see a substantial increase in protection with SPF numbers higher than 50.

The FDA will no longer allow the terms “sunblock,” “waterproof” and “sweatproof” (yeah!!!)  The term “water resistant” will be allowed if a manufacturer documents that their product keeps working even after you go in water for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Hence, you’ll see the term “water resistant- 40 minutes” and “water resistant- 80 minutes.”  This labeling will be helpful in protecting kids who love to swim.

So, until the labeling changes go into effect, to protect your skin from sunburn, cancer and premature aging, here is the bottom line:
• only use products that specify “UVA and UVB” protection, with a SPF rating higher than 15;
• use a “water resistant” product if you intend to go swimming;
• reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, (even if you use “water resistant” sunscreen).

And remember to limit time in the sun, wear cover-ups and hats, and drink plenty of water.

Don’t forget the ears!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

protect my earsThe weather’s warm, the sun is shining, the kids want to run around and play with the hose. Doesn’t it feel great to get away from freezing winter?!

Here’s the pitch for today: don’t forget the sun block. I know, everybody’s talking about that right now, and they should ‘cause it’s important. We have written about the importance of using sun block before, about using one with SPF 30 and replacing it every couple of hours, etc. But this time I want to remind you while you slather on the goop to be sure to protect your children’s ears. We always get the cheeks, nose shoulders and arms, but sometimes the ears are bypassed. Wide brimmed hats are great, but caps will leave the ears exposed to sizzle in the sun.

If you’re pregnant, your sensitive skin might burn more easily. Read these tips for you and relax and enjoy the warmer weather… and don’t forget your ears!

Tips for avoiding summer’s heat

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

beach-umbrellaWhen we have kids, we’re always thinking of protecting them.  We don’t want them to get sunburned or have heat stroke.  But often, we don’t take our own advice when it comes to protecting ourselves.  When pregnant, you can be extra sensitive to the harsh rays of the sun, to heat, to dehydration.  Don’t forget the following:

–  Slather on the sun block before going out, using an SPF of 30 or higher.  Reapply it regularly – goopify!
–  Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect not only your face, but ears and neck. Caps don’t protect as well.
–  Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, even with a hat.
–  If you wear sandals to help keep your feet cool, be sure to keep suntan lotion on your feet.  And put those piggies up for a rest whenever you can.
–  Walk on the side of the street that has shade.  (The sun is hottest between 10 AM and 4 PM)
–  Drink plenty of water.  Carry a refillable water bottle with you and leave one in the car.  Drinking slightly warm water is better than drinking no water.
–  Take a big umbrella with you to the beach and sit in its shade.
–  Reduce your level of activity when heat and humidity are high.