A Melbourne woman whose legs were scorched after going into the sun and a Brisbane mother whose children were left with large blisters are the latest in a string of people raising safety concerns about Banana Boat sunscreen.
Melbourne sales manager Briar Houston said she could hardly walk after the backs of her legs were sunburnt so badly they become blistered and swollen after she used Banana Boat’s spray-on SPF 50 product.
“It was horrific, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” she told the ABC.
“I had other SPF factor everywhere else and I only put the Banana Boat SPF 50 aerosol on the back of my legs.
“I was not burnt anywhere else, not my face or my shoulders, no burns anywhere else.”
The latest reports of problems with sunscreen come a week after a mother said her baby was hospitalised after using the Cancer Council’s Peppa Pig sunscreen.
A number of people responded saying they had experienced similar problems with Cancer Council products.
Ms Houston said she was in and out of the water at the Perth Beach in less than two hours, and reapplied the sunscreen after swimming.
The next day, she was in pain throughout the day.
“Getting dressed, walking, it was just so, so painful,” she said.
“I had the doctor come out and had to get clearance to fly home the next day because of the swelling, he prescribed medication for the pain, and told me to see a doctor back in Melbourne as soon as possible to assess the burns as well.”
Ms Houston is among dozens of people reporting being burnt while using Banana Boat sunscreen on the company’s Australian Facebook page.
Children left a ‘dark shade of pink’
Two mothers have told the ABC about separate incidents where their children were burned using Banana Boat sunscreens.
Kirsty Hellmech, from Logan Reserve south of Brisbane, said two of her children were burnt using Banana Boat spray and roll-on products while camping.
“We slathered the kids in sunscreen because that’s what they say to do, put it on half an hour before going out in the sun,” Mrs Hellmech told the ABC.
“About 45 minutes later my daughter came up to me to say her back was hurting.
“We checked her back and found she was a really dark shade of pink.
“I was just horrified, she had blisters the size of 10 cent pieces.”
Michelle Barraclough, from the Gold Coast, said her four-month-old baby girl Ezara Ivy was badly burnt while using SPF 50 roll-on Banana Boat sunscreen in November.
“We were there less than half an hour and as the day wore on I noticed her skin becoming pinker,” she said.
“At first I thought it might be a skin reaction, but realised that was really unlikely because I’d been using it on her every time we left the house.”
Banana Boat says ‘products are safe’
Banana Boat marketing director Rachel Pullicino said the company’s products are safe.
“We take all consumer complaints really seriously and investigate all complaints and to date, of all the complaints that we’ve received and investigated we’ve received no issues with any of our products,” she told the ABC.
“It’s common to get sunburn complaints at this time of the year and it might look like there are quite a few on social media however the reality is relative to the millions of products sold every summer, there’s a very few number of complaints.”
She said people were not using enough sunscreen.
“We recommend that consumers use seven teaspoons, so one teaspoon on average per limb, in addition that they reapply frequently and liberally,” she said.
“We also recommend that sunscreen is only one part of a sun smart routine, they should always use protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, rash vests and really avoid the hottest parts of the day.”
The company has no plans to recall any of its products.
TGA tested Banana Boat early 2016
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) told the ABC it tested Banana Boat products after receiving complaints from the public.
“Following the consumer complaints of a lack of efficacy of Banana Boat sunscreens early in 2016, TGA laboratories conducted chemical testing on a selection of Banana Boat sunscreens and found no evidence of a problem with the quality of any of the sunscreens,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.
“Only pre-approved ingredients can be included in sunscreens, and each of these ingredients have been assessed for quality and safety by the TGA.”
Spray-on sunscreens should be reconsidered: dermatologist
Leading Sydney dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook said the problem with spray on sunscreens was that they could be difficult to apply correctly.
“I think if we’re getting repeated incidents of people having problems using aerosol sprays we really do need to reconsider whether they should be available on the market,” Dr Cook said.
Dr Cook said some people can have allergic reactions to sunscreen.
“Certainly we do see reactions or allergies to sunscreens based on the base chemicals in the sunscreen such as the preservatives,” she said.
“We also see reactions known as photo-allergic contact reactions to the chemical blocking agents that are in the sunscreen.”