FDA: Don’t use spray sunscreens on children

sunscreen image for web

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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