If you are a person who uses sunscreen sprays, it’s perhaps better if you didn’t use them right before grilling burgers outside or roasting wienies around a campfire. That’s because the sprays are flammable, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to consumers about using sunscreen sprays after five separate incidents in which individuals were burned severely enough to require medical attention. They all were wearing spray-on sunscreen and were near open flames.
According to the agency news release from FDA medical officer Dr. Narayan Nair:
Based on this information, we recommend that after you have applied a sunscreen spray labeled as flammable, you consider avoiding being near an open flame, sparks or an ignition source.”
The burns were caused when the sunscreen ignited due to close proximity of cigarette lighter, candles, welding and barbeques.
What is the flammable ingredient in sunscreen sprays?
The main flammable ingredient included in sunscreen sprays is alcohol. Even when the sunscreen has been applied and seems to be dry, it can pose a danger. The FDA is encouraging consumers of sunscreen sprays to exercise caution when near open flames, or performing activities such as smoking, grilling, lighting fireworks or sparklers, and using candles. The FDA’s warning also notes that this danger may not only be limited to sunscreen sprays, but might also apply to other spray products such as bug spray and hairspray and other non-spray sunscreen products.
Each of the five incidents of people being burned who used spray-on sunscreen used Banana Boat products. In October 2012, Energizer Holdings voluntarily withdrew a number of Banana Boat spray-on sunscreen products from the market.
According to the voluntary withdrawal notice, these spray-on products dispense more than the average for similar items from competitors, causing the drying time to be longer. Still, the FDA warns that consumers who use the products should still be cautious even after the sunscreen has dried.
Does the FDA’s warning mean that people shouldn’t use sunscreen sprays?
The FDA still considers sunscreens to be an important component of sun safety. According to the FDA, people should limit their exposure to the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which is when the sun’s rays are the most damaging. Also recommended is staying in the shade throughout the day.
If you must be out in the sun, The FDA recommends dressing in protective clothing such as a shirt with long sleeves, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. Also, according to the FDA, applying sunscreen all over one’s body 15 minutes before going out into the sun is recommended, and then reapplying it every two hours at a minimum.
While sunscreen offers some degree of protection against skin cancer, according to experts it is not the perfect solution. That’s because major sunscreen products don’t offer protection against all of the types of ultraviolet rays from the sun. For instance, products with high SPF may not protect against both UVA and UVB rays, so SPF 15 to 50 with broad spectrum protection is the best option for sunscreen.
Written by: Douglas Cobb