Jessie Swan posted this photo of her son with a
Jessie Swan posted this photo of her son with a "horrible rash/burn" all over his body on the Cancer Council Australia's Facebook page. Jessie Swan | Facebook

Sunscreen instructions to change after rise in complaints

WE'VE been slip, slop, slapping all wrong.

The Cancer Council will redesign its sunscreen packaging and simplify instructions after a spate of complaints from consumers.

With more than 400 complaints made about the sunscreen "not working" the Cancer Council tested the products finding the biggest issue was human error, and not the product itself.

"The biggest problem is people are not using enough and not reapplying frequently enough and you also need to put it on 20 minutes before you go outside so that the water in the formula can evaporate to form the protective barrier on the skin," Cancer Council chief executive Sanchia Aranda said.

A recent study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology found 85 per cent of people did not apply enough sunscreen and only one in three reapplied every two hours.

One in five never reapplied.

"If you put it on and then jump in the pool, it will wash off and you have to reapply every two hours," Professor Aranda said.

"The product may say four hours' water resistant but that is laboratory tested, it doesn't take into account perspiration and so on.

"Plus, we are not using nearly enough. A full body application is around 35ml, 5ml for the face, neck and ears, 5ml for each limb (and 5ml each for the torso) front and back. It's quite a lot and when I saw how much that is I thought I wasn't using enough either."

She said the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign worked but consumers now needed more precise information and should avoid using it at all on babies under six months.

Ms Swan put the Cancer Council Peppa Pig sunscreen on baby Thomas, three months, in January only to watch him flare up with a full body rash which landed him in hospital.

Her post on the Cancer Council website went viral but it later emerged Thomas had an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients.

>> Infant hospitalised with rash 'caused' by kids sunscreen

"I didn't know (you weren't supposed to use on babies under six months). I used other Cancer Council sunscreen on him with no reaction.

"There was no warning at all on the pack; it just said suitable for use on babies and children," the 25-year-old mother of two said, adding she was pleased the Cancer Council was going to change the packaging to make warnings more clear.

The Cancer Council's Director of Education and Research Terry Slevin said people had unrealistic expectations of sunscreen and used it as a first line defence when it should be the last behind shade, hat and clothing.

Storage of sunscreen is also important because leaving it in the car where temperatures can hit 50 degrees Celsius can separate the ingredients.

"On most packs it says store below 30 degrees, heat can cause separation of the carrier and the effective ingredient may still be in the tube," Mr Slevin said.

The Cancer Council's redesign comes as the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) will ­tomorrow release clear recommendations on how to use sunscreen safely and effectively to ensure customers understand what is going wrong when it 'fails'.

Blake Coleman, 32, makes sure every one of his three children has sunscreen on before they leave their Avoca Beach home.

"We allow at least 15-20 minutes before they are exposed to the sun," he said.

News Corp Australia

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