Sunscreens Causing Sunburns

By May 30, 2017Burn Injuries

A three-year-old in Virginia has suffered second-degree burns when his sunscreen failed to protect him during a trip to the beach.

Jennifer Sayers, the mother of three-year-old Liam, applied Banana Boat SPF 50+ kids spray sunscreen to Liam multiple times throughout their 5-hour visit to the beach, and Liam seemed healthy when the family got home that night. But the next day, Liam’s eyes were almost swollen shut from the sunburn, and the three-year-old’s face was badly burnt and blistering.

Sayers says she followed the directions on the bottle of the sunscreen and made sure to re-apply the sunscreen throughout the day.

Child burn injuries from sunscreen can occur because the product is defective, or because a responsible adult failed to properly apply the sunscreen. Last year, two Oklahoma boys suffered severe second and third-degree burns after their day care failed to provide sunscreen when it took children to a water park.

Workers at the daycare initially laughed off the boys’ complaints of pain after taking the boys to the water park on a Friday. Their mom tried to soothe the pain with aloe gel, but the pain continued to worsen so she took them into the ER on Sunday. The boys’ injuries were so severe that they were both airlifted to a children’s hospital for extra care.

Even more unnerving, some sunscreens have been recalled for catching fire after applied. In 2012, dozens of Banana Boat sunscreens were recalled after five separate incidents left people with serious burn injuries. The spray on sunscreens can include flammable ingredients, like alcohol, and can quickly ignite when the user goes near a heat source before the sunscreen has dried on the skin.

A man in Massachusetts suffered severe second-degree burns on his chest, back, and ear when he applied spray-on Banana Boat sunscreen and then walked over to use his grill.

Sunscreen lotions do not have the same flammable components as their spray-on counterparts.

Sunscreens can also cause burn injuries when they are mislabeled, use false advertising, or provide incorrect directions to consumers. Last month, Consumer Reports released a study of 65 sunscreen products and found that 43% of the products had a lower SPF than what was posted on the label.

The study found that 13 of the 35 sunscreen lotions tested had an SPF under 30 (the recommended standard) though they advertised SPFs of 30 or above. The two products that had the largest disconnect between their advertised SPF and actual SPF were Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free, Sting-Free lotion and CVS Kids Sun Lotion. Both products were labeled as SPF 50 and both had an actual SPF of 8.

One possible reason for the discrepancy in SPFs is a difference in the way the SPFs were tested by the sunscreen manufacturers and by Consumer Reports. Sunscreen manufacturers usually rely on tests that do not consider water use while using the sunscreen. Water use can significantly decrease a sunscreen’s effectiveness, even if the bottle says “waterproof”.

According to the report, the top five sunscreen lotions are:

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60
  • Pure Sun Defense SPF 50
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50
  • Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 (Walmart brand)
  • No-Ad Sport SPF 50

If you or a loved one has suffered a burn injury from sunscreen use, call our offices today to schedule a free consultation.

Will Walker

About Will Walker