Singapore mum warns about sunscreen allergy after child suffers swollen face and rashes

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A trip to Sentosa turned into a nightmare for one Singapore family when both mother and daughter suffered a bad allergic reaction to sunscreen...

What was supposed to be a fun time at Sentosa turned into a nightmare for one Singapore family when both mother and daughter suffered a severe allergic reaction to sunscreen.

Singapore mum Mrs Pueh recently shared her horrific experience with theAsianparent.

Singapore mum shares about horrible allergic reaction to sunscreen

Mrs Pueh tells us, "The incident happened on 18 March (Monday), during the March school holidays. We were going to Sentosa, and it was really hot."

"I realised that I had forgotten to bring sunscreen with me, so I bought Banana Boat Sunscreen for Kids (SPF 50+) from a 7-Eleven store nearby."

"Both me and my 8-year-old daughter applied the sunscreen. By late afternoon, my daughter's body had started itching...soon she had rashes on her back, hands and legs."

allergic reaction to sunscreen

"The next day I took her to a GP, who said that it was an allergic reaction. So, he prescribed some cream and oral antihistamine. Later on, I noticed that my daughter's face had got swollen."

'The GP recommended that I take her to hospital A&E. However, there, the doctor informed me that she had scarlet fever and prescribed antibiotics for 10 days. I was quite confused because no blood tests were done, and my daughter did not have any fever either. She only had rashes which appeared like small bumps, especially on the back."

"To make things worse, by Wednesday, I ended up with rashes on my arms and legs. The rashes were only on the areas where I had applied the sunscreen."

allergic reaction to sunscreen

"Feeling doubtful, I took my child to another family physician (who had specialised in skin), for a second opinion. The doctor told me that she definitely did not have scarlet fever. He prescribed another cream and body wash, and thankfully, my daughter became okay soon." 

"I just want to create awareness among parents about the dangers of sunscreen. In fact, I even complained about this incident to Banana Boat, they took the product for lab test and told me that results would come in 4 weeks."

Thank you, Mrs Pueh, for sharing your experience with theAsianparent.

We contacted Banana Boat about this incident and here is the statement from Edgewell Personal Care:

"We take all of our consumers concerns seriously and investigate all cases when we are contacted directly about someone who has encountered a reaction when using our products. However, it is difficult to determine what may have caused the reported problem without speaking with the consumer, examining the product or determining the specific type of reaction."

"Any consumer concerns that reach us are fully investigated by our quality assurance team, who will look into reported cases and assist consumers in any way we can."

"All of our sun care products undergo appropriate and rigorous testing to ensure they are properly labeled and meet all relevant Health Science Authority regulations. Consumers can feel confident using our products for safe and effective sun protection, when applied as directed by the product labels."

"All products formulated for sensitive skin, including our SPF50+ Baby and Kids Sunscreen, are dermatologically tested to ensure they pass the Repeat Insult Patch Test (RIPT), a recognized formal skin sensitivity test for topically applied products."

"The ingredients in our products are disclosed on the labels using ingredient names assigned by experts and recognized by governments around the world. We do not knowingly add to our products common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, dairy, or gluten."

"Nonetheless, we recommend that consumers always read the label and check the list of ingredients. If concerned about the possibility of sensitivity to certain ingredients, we suggest consumers carefully test the product before use or consult their physician in advance."

Allergic reaction to sunscreen: What parents need to know before applying sunscreen on kids

Mums and dads, here are some basic precautions to observe when applying sunscreen on kids:

For babies

Sunscreen use should be avoided if possible in babies younger than 6 months.

Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. The best way to protect infants from the sun is to keep them in the shade as much as possible, in addition to dressing them in long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

If there is no way to avoid the sun, it is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months. 

Sunscreens labelled ‘for babies’ or ‘sensitive’ are less likely to cause skin irritation. Always test the sunscreen on a small area of your baby’s skin to check for any skin reactions.

allergic reaction to sunscreen

For older children

  • Parents of infants and toddlers 6 months and older may apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of  30 or higher to their children’s exposed skin that is not covered by protective clothing. 
  • Choose sunscreen that is made for children, preferably waterproof. Before covering your child, test the sunscreen on a small area of your child's skin, for an allergic reaction. Apply carefully around the eyes, avoiding eyelids. If a rash develops, consult your paediatrician.
  • Make sure sunscreen is within its use-by date, and keep it stored in a cool, shady place.
  • The sunscreen should be reapplied approximately every two hours.
  • Sunscreens that use the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, or special sunscreens made for infants or toddlers may cause less irritation to their sensitive skin.
  • Don't use sunscreens with PABA, which can cause skin allergies.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go outside.
  • Apply a water-resistant sunscreen if kids will be around water or swimming. Water reflects and intensifies the sun's rays, so kids need protection that lasts.
  • Sunscreen sprays are convenient but should be used with caution, as they are easy to breathe in, which can irritate the lungs.
  • Some sprays also are flammable, so you need to avoid sparks or flames when applying them and wearing them. 
  • Always discard any sunscreen that is past its expiration date or you have had for 3 years or longer.

Also READ: These mums are warning all parents about sunscreen burns

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Written by

Jaya