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Can Sunscreen Be Considered a Drug?

booleansplit, flickr

Last week, a mom in Tacoma, WA. went public after her fair-skinned young daughters came home from an all-day field trip badly sunburned because teachers weren’t allowed to provide them with sunscreen.

Now the policies that led to the incident are being re-examined.

Various state and local rules classify sunscreen as an over-the-counter drug, and in many areas, policies have long been in place to prevent kids from bringing any such “drug” — which also includes aspirin — to school or summer camps.

In addition, there’s the worry that an adult rubbing sunscreen on a child could be deemed “inappropriate touching,” and schools also fret about possible allergic reactions to the lotions and the inevitable lawsuits that would follow.

But Jennifer Allyn of the American Academy of Dermatology says the allergy concerns are overblown: “Sunscreen allergies are no more common than allergies to soap. Are schools going to take soap out of their bathrooms?”

Experts say that parents who think their schools or camps lack a sensible sun-safety policy can form committees to change them. Tips on how to do that can be found at

[USA Today]

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