A mom in Tacoma, Washington learned last week – only after her two daughters came home from school with severe sunburn – of a state law that prevents the application of sunscreen on students at the school without a doctor’s note. It turns out that 49 states have such restrictions (only California does not).
The end of year field day was scheduled that day and although the morning began with rain, by afternoon the sun was shining. One of the girls suffers from a form of Albinism and is particularly sensitive to sun exposure. By the end of the day the two girls were painfully sunburned and their mother was furious.¹
The specifics of the restrictions apparently vary from state to state, and the enforcement can vary between institutions. Sunscreen is considered an Over-The-Counter drug by the FDA, and in Florida, where SkinHealth Technology is based, schools and camps handle them the same way as other OTC’s. The parents can sign a consent form for its use on their children and sunscreen can be exempted from self application restrictions.²
Aside from the restrictions governing Over-The-Counter drugs, there are some policies, whether imposed by the state, or by the school, camp, or other organization attended by minors, that relate to the touching of children by other children or adults. Application of sunscreen could be considered inappropriate contact in certain interpretations.
The Washington mom is pushing to raise awareness of this issue and challenge policies that could inadvertently harm the children they are designed to protect. In the meantime, with summer camps and other activities provided by organized programs in full swing, parents should make sure that they are fully informed of policies on sunscreen use whenever placing their kids in the care of others.