Sunscreen during pregnancy: main care and risks

 Sunscreen during pregnancy: main care and risks

Lena Fisher

Sun exposure is important at all stages of life, not least because the sun is the main source of vitamin D. In this way, 80% of the formation of this vitamin comes from the sun's rays However, the use of sunscreen is fundamental to protect against diseases such as skin cancer. But can pregnant women use sunscreen during pregnancy?

First of all, it is worth noting the the importance of sun during pregnancy According to a study by the University of Edinburgh, pregnant women who received more sunlight in the first trimester of pregnancy decreased the chances of developing problems with the placenta associated with the premature birth and spontaneous abortion Women who did not have this habit were 10% more likely to have these risks.

However, just as important as sun exposure is how to protect yourself against its damages. One of them is to avoid sunbathing between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the radiation is more intense. See the risks and care.

Read more: Do you know what the SPF number of sunscreen means?

Sun protection during pregnancy requires caution

Using sunscreen is essential, because it reduces pregnancy-related skin problems, such as melasma The ideal for pregnant women are the lotions of broad spectrum, which act against UVA and UVB rays. They also need to have a sun protection factor (SPF) between 30 and 50.

"However, the orientation regarding the use of sunscreen is essential, since many products are contraindicated during pregnancy," says Carlos Moraes, gynecologist and obstetrician.

The specialist advises the use of physical or mineral sunscreen Besides being hypoallergenic, it creates a barrier on the skin, which reflects the ultraviolet rays, preventing their absorption by the skin.

Already the chemical sunscreen The most popular sunscreen has chemicals that absorb the sun's rays and penetrate the epidermis, which can affect pregnancy.

What are the risks of chemical sunscreens in pregnancy

According to the study The Skin in Pregnancy, published this year in the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery: Incorporating Medical and Surgical Dermatology; and the study Safety of skin care products during pregnancy, published in the Journal Canadian Family Physician; almost 3/4 of all sunscreens should not be applied by pregnant women by having the following components:


Present in most chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone, combined with other chemical components, is absorbed by the skin and enters the bloodstream, where it can cause severe allergic reactions and impair hormone production, and is associated with low birth weight in female babies.


One of the derivatives of retinoic acid, retinol is a chemical molecule present in many dermatological products, including anti-wrinkle creams and sunscreen. On sunscreen packaging, retinol is often referred to as retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, or retinyl linoleate.

"These are substances that can generate congenital defects in an embryo or fetus, through toxic effects, causing the malformation of a developing baby. Besides this, retinoid-based products are photosensitizing and antagonistic to the sun, causing hyperpigmentation in the skin and burns," reinforces Carlos Moraes.


According to ANVISA (National Health Surveillance Agency), you should avoid sun products with urea during pregnancy, especially in concentrations above 3%, because the main risk of urea during pregnancy is the possibility of causing malformation of the fetus. To find out if a product contains this substance, look for terms such as diazolidinyl urea andimidazodinyl urea.


Also present in some sunscreens, camphor can mimic the hormone estrogen and, in high concentration, can increase the risk of miscarriage. Furthermore, the substance can cross the placenta and compromise the baby's development. Like urea, camphor is also contraindicated by ANVISA during pregnancy. Therefore, avoid products containing 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC)and 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC) among its components.

Sunscreen use during pregnancy and risks for breastfeeding

According to a study conducted by the University of Zurich and published in the journal of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology, substances present in some types of sunscreens are absorbed by the body and excreted in breast milk. The contamination rate of nursing mothers was not small: 85.2% of the breast milk samples had some traces of sunscreen.

According to the study, three substances are particularly problematic: 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), 3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC), and octocrylene (OC), also called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which can remain accumulated in fatty tissues.

Present in about 30% of the protectors commercialized in Brazil, these substances expose babies to chemical compositions with toxic potential, compromising the brain, sexual organs, lungs, and countless glands that are being formed.

"Even though the risks are not the same for all pregnant women, it's not worth taking a risk. In a high-risk pregnancy, for example, any minimally harmful external factor can worsen the pregnancy. Therefore, before enjoying the summer and vacations, consult your doctor and ask for advice about the ideal sunblock for you", Carlos Moraes alerts.

Source: Dr. Carlos Moraes, gynecologist and obstetrician from Santa Casa/SP, Member of FEBRASGO and Specialist in Perinatology from Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa do Hospital Albert Einstein, and in Infertility and Ultrasound in Gynecology and Obstetrics from FEBRASGO, besides being a physician at hospitals Albert Einstein, São Luiz, and Pro Matre.

Lena Fisher

Lena Fisher is a wellness enthusiast, certified nutritionist, and author of the popular health and well-being blog. With over a decade of experience in the field of nutrition and health coaching, Lena has dedicated her career to helping people achieve their optimal health and live their best life possible. Her passion for wellness has led her to explore various approaches to achieving overall health, including diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices. Lena's blog is a culmination of her years of research, experience, and personal journey towards finding balance and well-being. Her mission is to inspire and empower others to make positive changes in their lives and embrace a healthy lifestyle. When she's not writing or coaching clients, you can find Lena practicing yoga, hiking the trails, or experimenting with new healthy recipes in the kitchen.