With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

09 September 2008

What IS in Coppertone and OFF?

If you've experienced or seen an allergic reaction to sunscreen or mosquito repellent, please write a comment so we can compare notes.  Tell us which foods you or your loved one is allergic to, which product caused the reaction, and what kind of reaction it was.

Yesterday, before preschool, I applied Coppertone to my 4 year old's face, arms and legs, and OFF Family Care with 7% DEET to his arms, legs, and neck and a little in the hair on the back of his head.  I had to touch his face near his mouth ever so gently, to wipe a spot clean, and he broke out in hives on his face.  I don't know whether it was the mosquito repellant or sunscreen that caused it.  But it makes me nervous.

I really don't like to put all of these chemicals on him. But, we do have a lot of woods where we live, and we've each already had a deer tick this summer. Thankfully, I spotted the ticks very within a matter of hours! We also have West Nile Virus and other mosquito borne diseases in our area as well.  My justification for using the chemical laden mosquito repellant and sunscreen is that he doesn't need any more medical conditions added to his plate.  Today, I will use the tube of California Baby instead.  I've been avoiding it since it is more difficult to apply, but I don't want to risk more hives.

A dose of Benadryl cream on his face brought quick relief of the itching and the hives were gone within a couple hours.  This episode brings me back to an issue I periodically write and speak about--better labeling on non-food items.  I must confess the Coppertone bottle has good labeling.  It lists active and inactive ingredients.  I do not know if the ingredient list is complete, but I believe it is since they went through the effort to spell out both active and inactive ingredients.  The bottle of OFF lists DEET 7% and then "other ingredients" 93%. What's in that 93%?  On the back of the bottle in very tiny print, it says "Ethyl Alcohol, DEET, Aloe, Fragrance".  A brief internet search listed discussions of corn starch in some OFF products. First item on today's things-to-do list: to find out more about what those inactive ingredients--especially "fragrance--are.  
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