One mother in Florida is calling on sunscreen makers to put warning labels on their products, and another has filed a lawsuit after they say chemicals commonly found in sunscreen caused their children's skin to blister and burn.
In April, Jade Gribble and her four children visited a Florida beach. Gribble sprayed her children with Havana Sun SPF 50 spray, thinking it would protect them from the sun.
But just two hours later, Griblle's 1- and 3-year-old children 1 began turning red. She said the burns on their heads and faces grew into blisters overnight.
Gribble took her children, who she says were screaming in pain, to the emergency room.
“It was overwhelming and I was racking my head, like what did I do wrong?” Gribble said.
According to dermatologist Dr. Maria Hicks, either Oxybenzone or acrylates — both ingredients found in Havana Sun and many other sunscreens — caused a reaction on her children's skin.
Acrylate, an ingredient that gives the sunscreen its consistency, was named allergen of the year in 2012 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
Dermatologists recommend using a mineral-based sunscreen instead of a chemical-based one, and only using a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Havana Sun CEO Matt DiFebo agreed to an on-camera interview and then later canceled, sending an emailed statement instead.
“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.”
Gribble isn't the only Florida parent calling for changes. A woman from Boynton Beach, Florida is suing the makers of Banana Boat sunscreen, accusing the company’s spray of causing blisters on her 2-year-old son’s skin.
Edgewell Personal Care, the makers of Banana Boat, sent the following statement.
“We take all of our consumer’s concerns seriously and our quality assurance team investigates all cases when we are contacted directly about someone who has encountered a reaction when using our products. Importantly, all Banana Boat products undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are appropriately labeled and meet all relevant health regulations, including SPF tests. For some people, sensitivity to an ingredient can be triggered or exacerbated by the sun. Such a photosensitive or photoallergic reaction can result in an exaggerated skin rash or sunburn. In more severe cases, blistering may also develop. We encourage people who have concerns about a burn to visit a dermatologist who can determine the type of burn, or a reaction to sunscreen itself, and advise on appropriate treatment.
Edgewell Personal Care does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation but as always, we invite anyone with a concern to contact us directly at 1-800-723-3786. As is our practice, we will work with each family to understand and address their specific circumstances. We are dedicated to providing safe and effective, high-quality sun protection and you can confidently use Banana Boat products as intended.”
This story was originally published by Jackie Callaway on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.