What you need to know about the Banana Boat sunscreen investigation

Health Canada has been investigating Banana Boat sunscreens since serious chemical burns were reported in babies who used the products last year.

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Last year, after several reports of babies developing serious chemical burns upon using Banana Boat sunscreens, Health Canada launched an investigation into the products. By mid-July of 2017, the department of health had received nearly 200 complaints from Canadians about Banana Boat sunscreen products. Now, with sunscreen season ramping up again, we checked in with Health Canada to find out what parents need to know to protect their kids this year.

Sad baby covered in sunscreenCould your baby's sunscreen cause severe burns? Health Canada told us that they tested a number of Banana Boat sunscreen products and reviewed Banana Boat’s own testing on the products associated with the complaints of reported chemical burns. “The tests and review of company results confirmed that the samples contained the correct amount of medicinal ingredients, that the pH levels of the samples were satisfactory, and that no undeclared drugs were identified,” said the statement from a Health Canada spokesperson.

But the investigation is ongoing. “The Department’s safety reviews consider different types of information obtained from various sources, such as adverse event reports, peer-reviewed scientific journals, foreign regulatory agencies and manufacturers. Health Canada also initiated testing of a broader range of sunscreen brands, selected on the basis of reported adverse reaction information, with a focus on products labelled for use in children.”

Health Canada expects to have a summary report of all of its findings in June of this year. In the meantime, paediatrician Dina Kulik says if you have a child whose skin appears to be burning after applying sunscreen, you should wash the skin immediately with lots of water to remove the product, then see your doctor. To help the burn heal, Kulik suggests applying petroleum jelly. And, if your child experiences such a burn, Health Canada encourages you to report this information using the Health Product Complaint Form.

If Health Canada’s continuing investigation finds evidence of a safety or quality concern with any sunscreen, the department says it will take immediate action and keep Canadians informed.

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