Sunscreen is supposed to protect you from burns, but one mom says it did the opposite. Last year, Rebecca Cannon shared a series of photos, along with a warning, about her daughter Kyla’s reaction to aerosol sunscreen–and the post has resurfaced. Her little one had swollen cheeks and burns on her face. According to one of Cannon’s posts, Kyla suffered a second-degree caustic burn.

“Please watch and be [careful] when using aerosolized sunscreen!” Cannon wrote in the viral post. “I have done a lot of research since coming home and have found a disturbing amount of cases like ours. I don’t know why it’s not removed from the shelves!!”

Ok so I'm getting many msgs and just want everyone to know Kyla is back home after another hospital trip this morning…

Kyla’s reaction certainly looks painful–but could a spray sunscreen really do such damage?

For starters, the chemical formulas of aerosol sunscreens may be irritating, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City. It’s recommended that you choose a physical or mineral sunscreen (one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) over a chemical sunscreen, especially for delicate babies’ skin or if you have sensitive skin. “Chemicals are more irritating,” Dr. Jaliman says. 

It’s also a smart idea to look for “unscented” or “fragrance-free” sunscreens for babies or anyone with sensitive skin, as scented sunscreens may also cause irritation.

While Dr. Jaliman says she’s personally never seen a chemical burn from a sunscreen, the photos Cannon posted of Kyla do look familiar. “I have seen a lot of allergic reactions where someone is sensitive to the chemical and their body reacts and turns red and swollen. Looking at this baby’s face, it appears to me that she had an allergic reaction to the sunscreen.”

When using aerosol sprays, be sure to apply them correctly, Dr. Jaliman adds. “Never spray sunscreen directly on the face. It needs to be sprayed on the hand and applied to the face.”

And if you know you or your child are sensitive to certain products, test new formulas on a small patch of skin before using them all over.

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