With the summer season here, parents should be aware of a possible danger to their young children. One of America’s most popular sunscreens is facing charges that its product is harming the children it is supposed to protect. Worse yet, the sunscreen manufacturer is not saying publicly why their product may be harming children.
In a statement on their website, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that “spray sunscreens should never be applied directly to your face.” In addition, it recommends that sunscreens not be used on infants.
However, there are a number of popular spray sunscreen products on the market geared for children. Parents often assume that these products can be used on their children just like any other sunscreen. That line of thinking could be dangerous to a child. After an infant suffered second-decree burns to her face, one mother is sounding the alarm.
Rebecca Cannon, a Canadian resident, discovered that Banana Boat SPF 50 Broad Spectrum Kids Sunscreen could have dangerous side effects. Her daughter suffered second-degree burns after using the product.
When she took her 14-month-old daughter Kyla outside recently, Cannon used Banana Boat spray sunscreen. She thought it would provide a little extra protection. She sprayed it on her arms and legs, as well as her face.
“As the day went on, she got a little redder and redder and the next morning she woke up and was swollen, she was bright red, there were blisters starting to pop up,” Cannon told CBC News in Canada. She added that Kyla’s 3-year-old nephew used the adult sunscreen as well, among other children with them that day, but Kyla was the only one who experienced a reaction. Cannon said she immediately took her daughter to a doctor, who told her that Kyla had second-degree burns.
“He said in some babies, there has been other cases of burns caused by [sunscreen],” she told CBC News. Cannon added that her doctor explained it was possible that the redness, blistering and swelling were a result of a severe allergic reaction to the sunscreen.
“Since coming home, [I] have found a disturbing amount of cases like ours. I don’t know why it’s not removed from the shelves,” she wrote, adding that she has spoken to Banana Boat and they offered her a reimbursement for the product.
The second degree burns Kyla received look terrible, but may not leave lasting scars.
Good Housekeeping did get a response from Edgewell Personal Care, makers of Banana Boat sunscreen.
“We take all of our consumer’s concerns seriously and investigate all cases when we are contacted. (Edgewell staff) work diligently to provide high-quality Banana Boat sun protection products and we are greatly concerned when any person encounters a reaction using our products. We have spoken with the consumer and asked for the product so that our quality assurance team can look into this further. Without examining the product, it is difficult to determine what may have caused the problem as described. Like all products available in Canada, all Banana Boat products in the United States also undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are appropriately labeled and meet all relevant health regulations, including SPF tests.”
Even so, Cannon is not satisfied.
“Allergic reactions [include] swelling, redness and irritation — not second-degree burns. On the back of the kids’ sunscreen bottle [sic] it said it was safe for kids of all ages except for under the age of six months old, so there is no way it should have done that to her,” Cannon told GoodHousekeeping.com.
“The best defense from the sun is to seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and to cover up by wearing hats, sunglasses and protective clothing,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Director of the Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. “Sunscreen should be the secondary mode of defense.” (To determine the best formula for your child, it’s best to speak to your pediatrician prior to use.)
Incidents involving burns appear to be linked to spray, aerosol-based sunscreens. However, the makers of Banana Boat sunscreen are not saying which chemical in their product could cause a reaction.
For very young children, both the FDA and doctors recommend shade as the primary tool against sunburn. To avoid any adverse sunscreen reaction, consult a doctor before use.