• <h4 class="dechead">On One Hand: DHA May Penetrate the Skin

    Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is the active ingredient in sunless tanning lotions, creams and foams and could cause harm to an unborn fetus if it penetrates the skin. According to the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), 0.5 percent of DHA is absorbed into the bloodstream when self-tanners are applied to the skin. Once in the bloodstream, the chemical could potentially cross the placenta and enter into the baby's circulation.

    On the Other: It Avoids UV Exposure

    Using self tanning lotions to achieve bronze skin is healthier for the skin than exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV exposure during pregnancy can cause chloasma, or dark spots on the face an neck, which may or may not disappear after pregnancy. Additionally, according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, UV exposure has been linked to folic acid deficiency, which can cause neural tube defects in the fetus.

    Bottom Line

    Self-tanning lotions are considered the safest option for women wanting a sun-kissed glow while pregnant. Although it has not been confirmed that DHA that is absorbed into the skin crosses the placenta, pregnant women should not use self-tanning lotions until after the first trimester as a precaution . Also, since pregnancy can cause changes in skin sensitivity, a test patch should first be performed in an inconspicuous area.


    American Pregnancy Association

    Science Direct

    Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS)

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