Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

Mom Warns About Aerosol Sunscreen

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If you have kids and there is an aerosol sunscreen in your house, please throw it away. What kids are going through after having it applied is too awful to risk it.

Aerosol Sunscreen

In today’s world, there are plenty of dangers to go around for kids. Most parents are so careful to do everything right. Unfortunately, even when they do their best, bad things can happen. One little boy’s feet melted playing at a splash pad, while his poor Dad stood right there and missed the danger. Then there was the Mom who took her daughter for allergy testing and something heartbreaking happened.

We will always do our best to share when something happens to a child that we think might help parents keep their children a little safer and healthier.

Do Not Use Aerosol Sunscreen On Children

photo via Rebecca Cannon Facebook

Sounding the Alarm On Aerosol Sunscreen

Rebecca Cannon and her 14-month-old daughter were visiting Rebecca’s sister in Canada according to Today. The weather was nice and they decided to get outside and enjoy it.

When she searched for the sunscreen she usually uses on her little girl, she realized she didn’t have it. She asked her sister if she had any sunscreen for kids.

She was given a Banana Boat spray for kids. The product claimed to be alcohol-free, tear-free, and sting-free, with a 50+SPF. It also declared the product safe for kids over 6 months.

Everything checked out. I would have trusted it because of all those things written right on the can.

Before you ask, this Mom did not spray it directly on her child’s face. She knew better than that, but even if she hadn’t, the directions warned adults should spray it into their own hands before putting it on a child’s face.

That’s exactly what Rebecca did, and again, I would have done the same thing. Finally, she put a hat on her baby girl and off they went. I would have thought that was about as safe as she could have been, other than staying in the house.

The Harrowing Visit to the ER

A few hours later Mom began to notice a rash creep across her little one’s face. She was concerned, but not so much so that she felt a trip to the ER was warranted.

The next morning, however, she scooped up her daughter and rushed to the Emergency Room. Where a rash had been, there was now severe swelling and blistering.

The ER doc told her that her daughter’s face was covered in 2nd-degree burns! Rebecca couldn’t figure out what happened. She’d protected her daughter from the sun, so how in the world did she get so badly burned?

The cream she got from the doctor made it even worse, and so she was immediately referred to a dermatologist. That’s where they began to put the pieces together. Her daughter was suffering from a caustic burn caused by the sunscreen.

Yes, She Got Caustic Burns from Aerosol Sunscreen

I’ll be honest. I had to look up what a caustic burn was. Now I know that it’s a chemical burn that can affect both your skin and internal organs.

Here are some of the chemicals that can cause caustic burns, according to Healthline.

Car battery acid
Bleach
Ammonia
Denture cleaners
Teeth whitening products
Pool chlorination products

You should also know that Consumer Reports said to stay away from spray sunscreen for kids for now. I don’t know about you, but I believe I’ll follow that advice. Better safe than sorry, in my opinion.

Do Not Use Aerosol Sunscreen On Children

photo via Rebecca Cannon Facebook

What to Do Next

I strongly encourage you to visit the EWG’s guide to sunscreen for children. (The EWG AKA Environmental Working Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

“EWG provides information on sunscreen products from the published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings indicate both efficacy and the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product – not the product itself – compared to other sunscreens. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors which determine actual health risks, if any.”

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38 comments

  1. I am one of the unfortunate folk that cannot bear the chemicals in most of the new sunscreens either. The first time I used it was at the ocean and I thought maybe I’d been hit in the face and neck by a jellyfish. The burning stinging pain was INTENSE. Even as an adult the urge to grab sand and just grind it into my face was powerful, because the pain itched and stung and literally any other feeling would be preferable. I decided to stay away from the beach, but it still took 3 weeks for my skin to recover.

    Then I took my child to our local pool. Used the same sunscreen and boom, same reaction. I knew there was no jellyfish in the pool, it had to be the sunscreen. I threw it away.

    Since then I’ve had the same reaction if someone sprays it upwind of me. I now have to position myself upwind of everyone at the pool, beach, festivals, playgrounds, anything at all, and the mere sound of someone activating a spray can makes me throw anything at all over my head and neck. I’ve stuffed my head into my own shirt like a lunatic. But it’s better than 3 weeks of burning, blistering, stinging rash.

    If other people are wearing it and hug me, I’m doomed. I discovered that the hard way as well. Now I’m reticent to hug anyone in the summer months! It’s alienating. But again, anything to avoid the pain, not to mention the vanity issue of having burns all over one’s face.

    From what I’ve come to understand, one chemical ingredient opens the pores to better accept a second chemical ingredient that sits inside them and reflects sunlight back. If you don’t believe me, I understand- I was stunned, utterly stunned when I first read about it.

    So it’s doubly problematic. Are we reacting to the chemical being absorbed or are we reacting to a chemical that opens pores, thus making us more fully absorb it? Is it both?

    My response is to go back to old school zinc oxide paste. Better goofy looking now and then with pasty white skin than suffering for weeks with a chemical burn!

    • Have you tried neutrogena products? I use the 100 spf and 110 face. yes seems like a lot but i have very fair skin, as well as rosacea. ive use this for years, and without any side effects. I am not sure about the child’s sunscreen though. If anything, put just a little somewhere, to see if there is any reaction.

      • Neutrogena is full of toxins, too. You may not be experiencing noticeable issues, but the products definitely aren’t good for you, nor for the environment as the rinoff contaminates the water. I’d look into healthier and safer options. 

  2. As a scientist that develops consumer products, including sunscreens, this entry sickens me in two ways. First, i feel absolutely horrible the child and mother had to suffer through this ordeal. Second, making broad generalizations on the safety of dozens of products based a single experience with a single product does more harm than good. Contact the manufacturer and the FDA. Most of the criticism about spray sunscreens, including the consumer reports position, is based on them not being used properly. Personally i think aerosol is an outdated technology. There are newer, better, safer technologies available today, and plenty of non-aerosol spray sunscreens to chose from. Nonetheless, Ive never personally seen the appeal. An SPF 30+ lotion sunscreen that also offers broad spectrum protection is the best way to protect yourself from the sun, and make sure to apply it liberally. Most people dont apply enough, and therefore dont get the labeled amount of protection. But at the end of the day, spray sunscreen is better than no sunscreen.

    Ask a couple PhD chemists about EWG before ranting about how great thier ratings are. Comb through thier ingredient pages and notice a trend… most chemicals with very few published safety studies have very low ratings whereas most chemicals with hundreds of safety studies have medium to high ratings. Thier low ratings are more a sign of a lack of safety data than they are evidence of actual safety. EWG is selling you something, whether you realize it or not.

    Unfortunately the internet has made everybody a scientist, for better or for worse.

  3. What sunscreens r safe for the whole family?

    • Ultra Sun I have fun sensitivity and burn instantly with out dun protection.
      ULTRA SUN is a perfect product and oy apply once a day.

    • None.. it’s not the sun that causes skin cancer, it’s the chemicals that are contained in them

  4. That’s why I started using Beautycounter! Same thing happened to my son. I have 4 boys now and use beautycounter sunscreen safest on the market. Thx! Beautycounter.com/aerdmann check it out! 

  5. This stuff should be taken off the market.
    It was Banana Boat that a few years ago a man had put on and was cooking on the grill and he literally burst into flames. They said the sun screen was the cause.

  6. It is possible that that particular child was allergic to that sun screen as well. But either way I would think if this kind of information is already out the aerosol sun screens for children should never have been put out on the shelves in the first place.

    • A couple of my kiddos would get a rash when using sunscreen on their face. My oldest is 22 now. So over the years I have learned a lot from personal experience. My go to for all of my family is helichrysum essential oil mixed with coconut oil. More recently I have used some other essential oils that work just as well, I would have to look up my notes to find out what I used. Helichrysum was my first so for some reason easy to remember and works perfect for us. I would have NEVER used sunscreen on two of my kiddos they would have been miserable!! So previous comment about at the end of the day “aerosol is better then no sunscreen” may never had personal experience with the dreadful reaction on skin. My experience was with a variety of sunscreens not just one brand, we tried them all! From different brands to lotions, sprays, aerosols etc. I would rather deal with a sunburn! http://www.mydoterra.com/essentialoilmoments

  7. So good of you to share such important info!

  8. For a safe alternative, Neora last month launched Invisi-bloc Sunscreen. An invisible gel, SPF 40, safe for children 6 months +, protects from UV A and B Rays plus blue light from electronic devices. Vegan and doesn’t damage coral reefs. skbogardus.neora.com

  9. Thank you for this important information. We are not being protected by our government eat or by multinational megacorpations that only care about greed. I appreciate the efforts of EWG to keep us safe.

  10. Stick to the zinc oxide base products with fewer ingredients. Bring the young ones in the shade at least every hour, cool off, drink, snack and skin check when dried off or cooled off if not swimming. Reaply or done. Skip going outside right after lunch. Mornings late afternoon or evenings are going to be safer.

  11. As an adult, I personally used Banana Boat aerosol sunscreen 10 years ago.  That was the last time I used it ever.  I followed instructions and went swimming in a pool for a few hours.  I was a little red but figured it was just because I was in the sun and water.  Then my face and arms started blistering.  It looked more like a burn and it was extremely painful.  I figured it was just sunburn.  Then it took several weeks for it to heal.  I only use sunscreen if I know that I will be out for a prolonged amount of time.  The next time I used it was for a picnic where I was outdoors.  Again,  the same thing happened.  After that,  I tried using other American brands cream sunblocks and would break out into rashes.  I feel like after using the Banana Boat aerosol sunblock my skin became more sensitive because I never experienced any allergic reactions to anything before using Banana Boat.  I realized at that point that I was probably allergic to sunscreen and stopped using sunscreen because of this experience.  

    After reading this post,  I realized that it may have been a chemical burn.  I use Korean and Japanese sunscreens(Missha and Shiseido) now and don’t have any reactions.  But when I use American sunscreens, I break out into rashes and hives (brands include Banana Boat, Aveeno, and Neutrogena) 

  12. Happy to see that Kyla is still smiling. Such a beautiful child. God bless you and your family.

  13. I find the spray sunscreen doesn’t work as well as the lotion so stopped buy after first time….

  14. Most lotions & sunscreens have a petroleum base & this child may be allergic to petroleum. I am. Cannot use any thing w/petroleum. I use pure cocoanut oil or Crisco  on my skin if dry. The only commercial product I have found w/o petroleum base is Udder Cream. I recently discovered I can tolerate Noxzema.

  15. So whats the difference in ingredients between an aerosol and regular sunscreen that would cause chemical burn?

  16. A few years ago I used Banana Boat sunscreen on my boys constantly applying it like the bottle said and both of my boys got burned and blistered really bad.
    I did send an email to Banana Boat and they apologized and sent me coupons for more products that went straight in the trash.
    I now use Bullfrog which so far works great.

  17. I’ve used spray sunscreens on my child hundreds of times in the Florida heat and have not had a single
    Problem. I’ve used every brand as well, whatever is on sale at the time. One persons experience is not everyone’s. Obviously the child was allergic or something around that line considering millions of people use these sunscreens without issue. Do your research people. 

  18. My daughter is now 9 but as a toddler banana boat sunscreen had a horrible effect on her. Never connected it til recently but she is severely allergic to nuts and most who i talk to about her allergy say banana boat effects their children too! Coincidence maybe but i stay away from that brand and use different spray sunscreen with no problems.

  19. Many many years ago my daughters face broke out like that.  There were no aerosol sunscreen at that time.  It too was banana boat.  I have not bought that brand since.  

  20. Dear heavens, ever heard of a face stick? Why in the name of heaven would you use something with a propellant and alcohol base on a face?

  21. I am Salicylate intolerant so I am allergic to the homosalate and octisalate in most sunscreens.

  22. I do not believe chemical sunscreens of any kind should be used, especially on children. They also contain known carcinogens. If you will be out in the sun for an extended period, use sleeves and hats and barrier sunscreen such as zinc oxide.

  23. I am curious (maybe I didn’t read it well enough), is the reaction only occurring on the face and neck area? My granddaughter seems to be having a slight reaction only on her face/neck when we apply sunscreen.

  24. I make my own. A base of organic coconut oil, shea butter, almond oil, carrot seed oil, and other things. No issues at all. Coconut oil itself is a sunscreen, look up recipes to build your own sunscreen.

  25. I don’t trust any brand except LA ROCHE-POSAY
    It’s a mineral Suncreen, it’s a expensive but it’s worth!

  26. I have always burned severally when I use any kind of sunscreen. My mom didn’t believe me so one year we went floating and I let her put it on my back.  I didn’t put it on my arms or legs.  My back fried to a crisp my arms and legs barely turned red.   I am allergic to one of the chemicals in it so always be careful using it.  

  27. To Rebecca, and her infant
    First thing to know, aerosol or not, you are applying man made chemicals to virgin tissue ! That’s the first place to stop !!! And secondly the article reads ,” a few hours later”. Not sure what a few hours are, but unless i you were in total shade, I’d reconsider what you were thinking!! That’s a long time for any fare skin to be exposed. Rash ?? first sign of allergic reaction… Lastly, thank goodness you learned the word caustic,, any man made chemical can assault the human tissue.. Go back to mother nature for you and your daughter, coconut virgin oil, one ingredient. ( coconut oiL) is only one,,, there are many options , and cos nothing more… Your lack of knowledge, is your worst enemy !! Good luck !!

    the f

    • Seriously? Have you ever considered how harmful mom-shaming is? Unless you have never before made a mistake (which I would imagine that you learned from), you would be better off keeping these types of comments to yourself. I’ve made more parenting mistakes than I can count, but that doesn’t make me an ignorant or negligent parent. Shame on you.

  28. Poor sweet, beautiful angel. I pray she is much better now. Hugs to her.

  29. (not passing judgement, I use aerosol too…but won’t anymore, thank you for the info. Glad your little one is healing.)
    My pediatrician always says, “The best sunscreen? A blanket.”

  30. My son was ADHD as a child and we discovered any sunscreen exacerbated his activity levels. We stopped using all sunscreens on him, and used it sparingly on myself and my daughters. Last year we finally discovered a 100% natural sunscreen with Young Living. SPF10 or SPF 50. No chemicals or nano-particles, it is zinc oxide based and easy to use. I’m so happy we found a safe sunscreen!