Alcohol based sunscreen sprays may contain 50% alcohol ingredients. The five separate incidents of people who suffered significant burns recently reported by FDA were close to some source of open flame, spark, or ignition source. Following the incidents, products were recalled from the market.
With summer, comes the routine of protecting the skin from the harmful ultraviolet radiations that cause skin cancer, sunburns and early skin ageing. Sunscreens have proven by many researchers to be efficient in cutting down the risk of skin cancers and sunburns. However, it could be confusing for consumers to select the best product to suit their skin type with the wide range of products available in the market today.
Sunscreens in spray form are convenient and easy to use. However, FDA reports that these spray type sunscreens often contain flammable ingredients like alcohol. The presence of alcohol causes the product to catch fire when it is sprayed close to a source fire source. Some of the cream based sunscreens too contain inflammable ingredients but these products usually carry a warning label advising people against using them next to a flame source.
However, the accidents that occurred were after the sunscreen spray had been applied near an open flame, spark, or ignition source. The accidents were caused due to different sources of ignition like a cigarette lighter, candle, welding flame and a burning grill.
Another potential danger of spray sunscreens among children is the risk of inhalation of the zinc and titanium compounds which is the major ingredients of sunscreens. As a safety precaution, it is advised to spray adequate quantity in the hands and then rub it on the facial areas.
Last year, FDA set the guidelines for sunscreen manufacturers, and these guidelines also enable consumers to choose the most appropriate sunscreen.
It is recommended to apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before stepping into the sun, and they should be generously reapplied every two hours to receive maximal protection from the sunscreen. FDA highly recommends the use of Broad Spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher. While American Academy of Dermatology asks people to consider sunscreens that are resistant to water.
Broad-Spectrum sunscreens are those that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. SPF is the sun protection factor, which is a measure of protection offered by the product. According to EWG (Environmental Working Group) 90% of the products available in the market are broad-spectrum sunscreens.
Some people with sensitive skin often suffer from contact or photo allergic reaction from the sunscreen. Contact allergies cause rashes immediately after the application of sunscreen, while photo allergies are appeared when the chemicals in the sunscreen react with sunlight. So it is advised to do a patch test when trying a new brand.
According to experts, creams are best suited for dry skin and face; gels are efficient for hairy areas like scalp and male chest, while sticks may be used near the eyes. Any type of sunscreen is not advisable for infants under six months old.
Summer holidays are the time to bask in the sun and enjoy an outdoor grilling with the family. FDA cautions people to select the right kind of sunscreen products free from flammable ingredients and stay away from any fire source to avoid any untoward accidents.
Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas