Jade Gribble was headed to the beach with her four children, so she did what just about any mom would do — made sure they put on sunscreen first.
As WFTS reports, Jade was visiting her sister in Bradenton, Florida. Wanting to protect her kids from the sun, the mom sprayed all four of them with Havana Sun SPF 50 sunblock before heading out for the day. She told WFTS:
“I thought it would be safe.”
But within two hours, her youngest children had developed a strange reaction. Talon, 1, and Tally, 3, began developing a bright-red “burn” on their hands and face.
By the next morning, the toddlers had begun to blister and were in tears over the pain. Concerned, Jade took them to the emergency room.
At the time, the mom didn’t connect her children’s skin issues to the sunblock she’d applied the day before. She told WFTS:
“It was overwhelming and I was racking my head, like what did I do wrong?”
Dr. Maria Hicks, a dermatologist who examined photos of the toddlers’ reactions, identified the source: acrylates and oxybenzone, two common ingredients in sunscreen. As Hicks explained to WFTS:
“When you see that, you have a dermatitis which is an inflammation of the skin.”
Both acrylates and oxybenzone have been known to cause irritation of the skin in some people. Another sunscreen company, Banana Boat, is currently being sued by a mom who says it caused blisters on her toddler son’s skin.
Matt DiFebo, the CEO of Havana Sun, released a statement to WFTS explaining that its sunscreen meets FDA safety regulations but that reactions are a risk with any product:
We deeply regret that a Havana Sun customer and her two children had an unpleasant experience with our SPF 50 Spray. All of our products are developed and manufactured in compliance with FDA sunscreen regulations, which include appropriate testing to insure product safety and efficacy. While we are a relatively new company, we have sold several thousand bottles of this product without receiving any complaints. However, even following all of the FDA mandates, it is highly unlikely that any sunscreen product will not cause an unfavorable skin reaction with at least a few individuals. Without having additional information regarding the usage circumstances of the family that experienced this issue, the storage conditions of the product after it left our control or a sample of the exact product they used, it is not possible for us to comment further on this particular instance.
While anyone with sensitive skin will want to use caution when choosing their sunscreen, parents of babies and toddlers may want to take extra care in protecting their children from the sun.
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), it is best to keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun completely. If possible, parents should also avoid using sunscreen on children younger than 6 months unless it isn’t possible to keep them out of the sun and covered.
The AAD recommends keeping babies in the shade and covering them with light, sun-protective clothing (such as pants and a long-sleeved shirt), a hat, and sunglasses. For babies 6 months and older, the AAD says to use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. It should be reapplied according to the product label or every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
In order to protect the delicate skin of toddlers and babies, parents may want to look for children’s sunscreens or sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are less likely to irritate the skin.