A Vancouver Island mother is planning legal action against Banana Boat sunscreen following a recent incident, when her child broke out in blisters after using the product.
“I put sunscreen on him before he went outside to feed the dog, and not even 20 minutes later he came back with blisters on his hands and ears,” said April Meadus, who lives in Sooke.
She quickly took her son, Caleb Jordan, to the hospital emergency department, but it wasn’t long before he was covered in blisters.
“They were all over him; his arms, legs, hands, face, everywhere. He hasn’t been able to go to school because of it,” said Meadus.
Caleb, 6, is now on antibiotics, being treated for what doctors told Meadus is chemical burns.
Meadus believes the burns came from using Banana Boat sunscreen.
“We have had to watch him 24/7,” said Meadus, explaining that Caleb has other health issues such as epilepsy, and the burns on his body have put him at risk for seizures.
“He has a low threshold, which means if he gets overwhelmed, excited, or if his body temperature heats up, it can set off seizures.”
She said the burns are starting to heal now, but she is unsure of when Caleb will be able to return to school.
Meadus hired a lawyer, and plans to take “every legal action possible” against the company.
“I just don’t want this to happen to another child. I hope the problem is addressed and the product continues to be tested because it clearly isn’t safe,” said Meadus.
“And I know there’s been other cases in B.C., but of course the company won’t admit to anything.”
According to Health Canada, as of May 16 there have been 323 adverse reaction complaints involving Banana Boat sunscreen products, 317 of which were reported after May 2017.
Health Canada tested a number of Banana Boat products, particularly those associated with complaints involving chemical burns, in 2017.
“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 Health Canada in a statement, adding that the safety review of the products is ongoing.
Banana Boat Canada has denied there’s anything wrong with its products, saying in a statement, “Banana Boat sunscreens products fall within a neutral pH range, which means they are safe for human skin, topical use and cannot cause chemical burns, which are sometimes mistakenly linked to personal care products or confused with sunburns.”
A spokesperson for Health Canada added, “Adverse reactions are tricky because there are a lot of reasons that they can occur. For example, the reactions could have been the result of mixing two different products together, rather than only one product, so it’s hard to tell.” Other factors that can contribute to a reported reaction include, but are not limited to: a person’s health conditions or other health products they are using at the same time, the way in which the product was used, or previous exposure to similar products.
The complaints about Banana Boat products have initiated Health Canada to also test a wide range of sunscreen brands to try and identify what the cause might be, and expects to release a report of test results or any findings in June. The summary report will be released on its website.