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Ingredients in sunblock may have caused serious burns on baby, toddler

Posted: 6:11 AM, Jun 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-21 08:17:45-04
baby with sunblock burns

A mom is calling on sunscreen makers to put better warning labels on lotions and sprays after I-Team Reporter Jackie Callaway uncovered the ingredients in a sunblock she used may have burned and blistered her baby and toddler.

Jade Gribble said she traveled to Bradenton in April to spend the week with her twin sister Jana Whitehead. Gribble said she sprayed Havana Sun SPF 50 spray on all four of her children before spending a day at the beach.

“I thought it would be safe,” Gribble told ABC Action News.

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But just two hours later, the sisters say 1-year-old Talon and 3-year-old Tally began turning red. They say the burns on their heads and faces grew into blisters overnight.

Gribble took her two youngest, 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?” said Gribble.

ABC Action News purchased the same sunscreen and brought it to three dermatologists, including Dr. Maria Hicks, and showed them photos of Talon and Tally’s burns.

Hicks gave her assessment, saying, “When you see that, you have a dermatitis which is an inflammation of the skin.”

Hicks said she suspects one of two ingredients in Havana Sun caused a reaction on the children’s skin: Oxybenzone and acrylates.

Both are popular ingredients in sunscreens also known to irritate the skin in certain people.

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.

The I-Team found other parents complaining of a child suffering the same burns – only with a different sunscreen.

A Boynton Beach mom is now suing the makers of Banana Boat sunscreen, accusing the company’s spray of causing blisters on her 2-year-old son’s skin.

We reached out to both the makers of Banana Boat and Havana Sun for comment.

Havana Sun’s CEO agreed to an on-camera interview and then later canceled, sending an emailed statement instead.

The makers of Banana Boat said the company does not comment on pending litigation but defended its products as undergoing rigorous testing.

Statement from Havana Sun CEO Matt DiFebo:
“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.”

Statement from Edgewell Personal Care, maker of Banana Boat sunscreen:
“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.”