No matter where you live, you know the importance of sunscreen on a warm day. Even if it’s overcast, it’s best to protect your skin either by using sunscreen or covering up. This is particularly important for young children and babies. There are a whole host of products aimed at keeping babies safe from the sun.
Rebecca Canon had the scare of her life when she visited her sister in Newfoundland, Canada. She was visiting with her then fourteen-month-old baby daughter, Kyla. It wasn’t very sunny, but Rebecca thought it better to be safe than sorry and borrowed some sunscreen to protect her baby girl. First, she checked the label, which said it was suitable for children over six months. She then sprayed the Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 on her hands to make sure she didn’t accidentally spray it in her baby’s eyes. Then she gently rubbed it on Kyla’s nose and cheeks. (1)
Rebecca noticed that Kyla’s face was reddening throughout the day. ‘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’ Rebecca told CBC News. (5)
She then rushed Kyla to the emergency room where doctors diagnosed her with a second-degree burn. Initially thinking that it was due to the sun, Rebecca was confused. Nobody else had suffered any kind of sunburn, and not everyone had even used sunscreen. In addition to the sunscreen, Kyla had been wearing a hat and was covered for much of the day. It was only after being sent to a dermatologist that the possible truth was uncovered. Kyla was diagnosed with a ‘caustic burn from something in the sunscreen.’ (2)
Luckily, Kyla has no scarring from this problem and doesn’t seem to have suffered any long-term damage, but Rebecca says ‘I never thought in a million years that this would happen.’ In an interview with TODAY she continues ‘I just want people to do their due diligence when they are putting stuff on their youngsters.’
Rebecca complained to Banana Boat who issued a statement. It read, ‘We are concerned when any person encounters a reaction using Banana Boat products. We take all of our consumers’ concerns seriously and investigate all cases when we are contacted,’. (3)
Health Canada launched an investigation after receiving ‘higher than expected number of reports of skin reactions suspected of being associated with Banana Boat sunscreen products’. (6, 7) Spokesperson Renelle Briand says that there have been multiple complaints from all over Canada and that Health Canada has reached out to Banana Boat for more information. Following this, Health Canada conducted testing on a wide range of sunscreen products and found there to be no serious concerns with any of them.
What Can We Learn?
Although there was no way to predict this, as it could happen to anyone, it’s important to remember to patch test new products. Anyone can suffer from allergic reactions and babies have particularly sensitive skin. The best protection from the sun’s harmful rays is to avoid direct sunlight and try and be covered in the sun. Because this is not always possible, it’s also a good idea to use products dedicated to your health and safety.
Personal care products are wildly unregulated. The United States has not passed a major federal law regulating these items since 1938. (8) Therefore, the onus is on consumers to be diligent with their own care to ensure they are not unwittingly exposed to harmful chemicals. Third-party verification organizations such as The Environmental Working Group are a great way to start reclaiming ownership over what you put on your body. Public demand for safer products can drive companies to change the way they do business thus creating a healthier world for us all.