FDA: Don’t use spray sunscreens on children

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sunscreen is a summer must, and there are hundreds of brands to choose from with different SPFs and scents. Even a choice between lotion and spray. According to a consumer report, they say don’t use “spray” sunscreens on kids, at least for now.

The FDA announced last month that it’s investigating the potential risks of spray sunscreens, and until the results are in, spray sunscreens are out.

Playing catch, a good game of tag, or enjoying some cold treats from the ice cream man are all fun summer activities kids engjoy when the sun is shining bright in West Michigan neighborhoods But parents know the sun isn’t all fun and games.

“I’ve experienced a few burns,” said Thomas Bunk, a father of 4 children. “I’m going through some spot removals now and have been for awhile. So now I take it a lot more seriously and I want my kids to take it seriously, too.”

Thomas Bunk raised a family full of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, so spending time outside is a regular family affair. “We camp, we fish, we hike,” said Bonk.

Now, to protect his kids, Bunk goes what he calls “old school.”

“I think cost-wise I get more bang for my buck, and when I buy the lotion at least I know where its going,” he said.

Further down the street, mom of three Karen Bier-Hobbs aims to protect her kids from the sun, but she takes a different approach.

“Spray is what I use. It’s very convenient. I can reapply all the time.”

Convenient, but Dr. Randall Duthler of Metro Health recommends against using the spray sunscreen. “I think the primary concern is inhalation and injury of the lungs. I have children myself, so I’ve used spray suntan lotions.  I’m guilty of it. You know, you try to put it on the face, and it can burn the eyes, and it’s very difficult to avoid inhalation, because sometimes kids can’t coordinate holding their breath when you are trying to spray it,” he said.

The FDA is studying whether some of the ingredients the kids are swallowing are harmful. On the back of most spray suncreens you can find a warning that says keep out of reach of children and to get medical help if it is swallowed or inhaled, because it can be harmful or fatal.

“I would say there’s a risk and benefit to everythng, and you have to weigh that for you personally and your kids,” said Dr. Duthler.

So, after we told Karen about the study, she’s thinking that safety weighs more than convenience. “I want to make sure they are protected as much as possible,”  she said.

So when the sun comes out tomorrow, the kids in this neighborhood will still be outside, just with a different sun protection.

Consumer Reports is already taking some sunscreen sprays off their approved list. The publication suggests that if you choose to use spray sunscreen on a child, spray it into your hands and lather it on the child.

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70 comments

  • April

    I thought everyone knew not to spray it directly on the face… wouldn’t that be common sense?! You NEVER should spray anything directly on the face!!! Also, I have used both the spray and the lotion… I like the spray better because it is easier to get on evenly without the mess… Living in Texas, we get a LOT of sun… and both work the same for us. Its a matter of preference. The only time I suggest not using the spray is if it is for an infant who cant hold it’s breath.. and I have always applied the spray outdoors.. just my thoughts on the matter… We go through a lot of sunscreen! :D

  • T

    in my opinion all sunscreens are dangerous and it has been proven that even lotions have ingredients that can cause skin cancer. Do your own research. I agree that the sprays should be taken off of the shelves. don’t believe everything these companies tell you. Just because they say it is sage does not make it so. time in the shade and covering up work just as well.

  • Paul

    Forget the content, the spelling and grammar are terrible. News articles are supposed to be written on a 6th grade level, not as if they were written by a 6th grader. How did this get by the editors? Were they drunk?

  • Stacy

    why would you spray these in a kids face? They’re great for the back, legs and arms but the face? You’d have to be stupid to do so. They make special formulas for the face and ears and my kids usually wear a hat when playing outside to protect their heads. Seems like common sense is missing here.