The Effect of Self Tanners on Your Heart

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • Now that summer is here, I can really feel the heat.  The temperature keeps going up and we’re expected to see some consistent 90 plus degree-days next week.  Since I’m pregnant, I’m dreading those hot days, considering my body temperature feels like it’s 100 degrees or more.  But alas, my husband figured out a way to cool me off, he bought a pool.  It’s nothing fancy, just one of those 15 foot round blow up varieties you can find at your nearest Walmart, but nonetheless, a mass of cool water and I’m ready to jump in.  But since I haven’t spent much time outdoors, I wanted to make sure my soon to be days in the sun were safe.

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    Spending time in the sun can be dangerous for anyone, causing sunburns and skin cancer.  But being pregnant can add a whole dimension to those dangers.  When you’re exposed to the sun, your core temperature increases.  This can elevate the temperature of the baby as well, which could cause problems like brain damage.  Also, the hormones in my body, mainly estrogen, can increase.  This can create a risk of cholasma or sometimes called the mask of pregnancy.  When this happens, dark spots appear on your face, usually on the forehead or across the nose.  Typically it goes away after pregnancy, but not always.  So, I’ll just have to limit my time in the sun and wear plenty of sunscreen.


    Some people spend time outdoors to actually get a tan.  I know I always feel like I look better with some color to my skin.  I usually stick to the natural sun or the self-tanners.  I’ve used tanning beds on occasion, but not too much.  I have many friends who do though.  Tanning beds can reduce the risk of overheating, but when pregnant, the same risks apply.  The ultraviolet rays from the tanning bed can increase the signs of aging and increase the risks of skin cancer.


    Tanning creams are a safe bet.  But again, when pregnant, you have to think about the well being of the baby.  The active ingredient in these products is typically dihydroxyacetone or DHA, which is absorbed through the skin.  That means the DHA will cross through the placenta to the baby.  How much of it crossing the placenta depends on how much you put on and how often.  Also, the use of some of these products won’t protect you from the ultraviolet rays.  So, still wear your sunscreen.  However, I did find a few products on the market that are moisturizers with a hint of self-tanner in them.  Some of them even have sun protection.  My doctor said it was okay for me to use these products.  However, many doctors discourage it, especially during the first trimester.  So, just check with your doctor before you try any of these products.

    As far as my stroke history, my neurologist told me I could tan or use self-tanners.  It never affected my medication, which was Coumadin, before I got pregnant.  The only risks were with sunburn and skin cancer.  There’s nothing wrong with spending time in the sun or getting a nice tan, just do it safely and always wear sunscreen.


Published On: July 09, 2007