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Sunscreen - The Latest Drug Banned from Schools

June 12, 2012

Did you know that in many states it is illegal to send your child to school with sunscreen? In fact, in all states except California, children are not allowed to apply the product at school or even bring sunscreen to school. This topic is getting national media attention because two girls, Violet and Zoe Michener, from Washington State, returned from a school field day with sunburns so severe their mother had to rush them to an emergency room.

According to the mother, when the girls left for school that morning it was raining outside, so she did not apply sunscreen. The girls were not allowed to wear hats per school policy. The school district stated the sunscreen had been banned due to state law because it is regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug, and therefore cannot be applied without a doctor's note. They also cite concerns about allergies to the ingredients in the sunscreen that may cause a rash (not respiratory allergies like peanuts).

Kudos to Mrs. Michener for bringing this topic to the national media to open discussion about how we can better protect our children from the sun's rays which we know cause skin cancer. Yes, she should have applied sunblock before school. The burns her children endured remind us that even on a cloudy day, the sun's rays pass through the clouds and can burn us as much as on a clear day. In addition, sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours, so these children should have been able to reapply, or even apply sunscreen during field day. In fact, federal regulations actually suggest that teachers encourage students to apply sunscreen before recess or playing outside. These ridiculous state regulations need to be changed. Parents should be able to choose the sunscreen that is best for their child and send it to school.

For now, I am writing a "doctor's note" (yes, I am lucky to be able to do that) for each of my children and taping it to the sunscreen in their bag so there will never be a problem. I am sure any other pediatrician or dermatologist would do the same for any of their patients. Hopefully in the future, the attention to this topic will prevent this waste of medical resources and paper, and will help protect our children from the pain of sunburn and the danger of skin cancer.

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