Can sunscreens be flammable?

Some sunscreen sprays may pose a risk of catching fire if worn close to an open flame, such as a barbecue grill, the US Food and Drug Administration warns.

In the US, there have been five incidents of people wearing sunscreen spray near a flame source suffering burns requiring medical treatment. The products, including 23 types of the popular Banana Boat Ultra Mist Spray-on Sunscreen, have been recalled.

The FDA warns that other products also contain flammable ingredients such as alcohol. While the sunscreen itself isn't flammable, spray sunscreens are similar to hairsprays, spray deodorants, insecticides, paints and other products that can be sprayed out of a can or bottle in that they can become flammable when used in aerosol form, Dr. Darrell Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University, told the New York Times. But alcohol typically evaporates within a minute or two, so usually there is very little risk of a fire hazard, the report said.

Yet, HealthDay writes that the incidents reported to the FDA occurred after the sunscreen had been applied, with the FDA warning that the risk of fire hazard may still exist even after you've waited for the sunscreen to dry.

jw/kc

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