US sun-seekers are being warned of altogether more serious burns this summer, following a series of reported incidents involving combustible sunscreen sprays. The US Food and Drug Administration has urged greater caution by the public when using this type of sunscreen, which has the potential to catch on fire when in close proximity to a naked flame.
So far, the agency has reported five known incidents where individuals using spray sunscreen have been severely burned after the product caught fire during use – all of whom required hospital treatment. The sunscreens reportedly responsible for each incident have since been removed from sale, though it remains impossible to estimate how many other potentially dangerous sunscreen sprays remain on the shelves.
The FDA has warned that scores of popular and everyday products contain significant quantities of flammable chemicals, usually alcohol. This includes a variety of sunscreens, hair products, insect repellants and others – all of which have the potential to ignite if exposed to an open flame.
“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,” read the agency news release from FDA medical officer Dr. Narayan Nair.
The vast majority of combustible products carry clear warnings that they should not be used in any areas with open sources of heat. However, the incidents the FDA warns of are said to have taken place after the application of the sunscreen when it was already on the skin of those in question.
The burns were caused when the sunscreen ignited due to close proximity of cigarette lighter, candles, welding and barbeques.
As a result, the FDA is warning that even after application when the skin feels dry, certain products could still ignite and extreme care should be taken at all times.