Spray Sunscreens Could Be Flammable, FDA Warns

Families are getting more serious about using sunscreen consistently, which is an important practice for skin health.  But the US Food and Drug Administration is warning that spray sunscreens, if applied near very hot surfaces like grills or campfires, could become flammable and cause serious injury.  No children have reported injuries from spray sunscreen, but the FDA urged parents to read labels carefully and avoid any products that are flammable.

The FDA issued a statement, which reads, in part:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has become aware of five separate incidents in which people wearing sunscreen spray near sources of flame suffered significant burns that required medical treatment. The specific products reported to have been used in these cases were voluntarily recalled from the market, so should no longer be on store shelves.

However, many other sunscreen spray products contain flammable ingredients, commonly alcohol. The same is true for certain other spray products, such as hairspray and insect repellants, and even some non-spray sunscreens may contain flammable ingredients. Many flammable products have a label warning against their use near an open flame.

You should never apply a product labeled as flammable while you are near a source of flame. In the five incidents reported to FDA, however, the burns occurred after the sunscreen spray had been applied. The ignition sources were varied and involved lighting a cigarette, standing too close to a lit citronella candle, approaching a grill, and in one case, doing some welding. These incidents suggest that there is a possibility of catching fire if you are near an open flame or a spark after spraying on a flammable sunscreen—even if you believe you have waited a sufficient time for the sunscreen to dry and your skin feels dry.

“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,” says Narayan Nair, M.D., a lead medical officer at FDA.

Image: Spray sunscreen, via Shutterstock

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