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Serious reactions to sun cream

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42 year old Claire Myers was on a family holiday when she applied the Piz Buin product. Within 36 hours her face, arms and legs swelled and became very itchy. Claire was admitted to hospital and was placed on an IV drip to bring down her allergic reaction. Ms Myers was discharged after two days, however, three weeks on she is still taking steroids and antihistamines to stop her allergy flaring up again.

Ms Myers, said the reaction she suffered after using the product ruined her holiday, her face was so swollen she could not smile or open her eyes, and her cheeks were so big she had to use a straw to drink. Ms Myers has confirmed that she has never suffered skin reactions before as she does not have sensitive skin.

Sadly, Ms Myers is not the first to suffer an allergic reaction to the product, last month the sun cream featured on BBC's Watchdog show after producers were inundated with complaints.

Another holidaymaker, Marie Goldie, 37, from Glasgow, suffered a similar reaction. Doctors in Tenerife said her reaction was so bad they feared she would need surgery to save her sight.

Dermatologists believe two of the cream's ingredients could be the reason for the severe reactions. Leading dermatologist Dr Ian White, of St John's Institute of Dermatology in London, said two of the cream's ingredients could be the reason for the severe reactions he had seen. He said his organisation had demanded urgent action into the safety of one of the chemicals used in the product, C30-38 Olefin/Isopropyl Maleate MA Copolymer, two years ago. He also claimed that one in ten of the patients he now sees were allergic to another active ingredient in the cream, known as Methylisothiazolinone.

In response to the BBC Watchdog investigation, the manufacturers provided a statement on their website. It says: "PIZ BUIN® 1 Day Long is a safe and effective sun protection product. It contains only permitted ingredients and is labelled according to legal requirements. The vast majority of people using this product are satisfied with their experience. We have received a small number of complaints that PIZ BUIN® 1 Day Long has led to skin irritation or rashes. These incidents equate to approximately 0.01% of sales.*

"In principle nearly every substance or product in our daily life may cause irritation in some people with a particular sensitivity, including the ingredients of cosmetic products. We sympathise with anyone who experiences a skin reaction and recommend they consult their doctor for advice. We encourage anyone who has complaints or feedback on our products to contact us by emailing crc@its.jnj.com. We take consumer feedback very seriously, all complaints are followed up and fully investigated."

However, Ms Myers has stated that there is no warning on the packaging about doing a patch test.

Between May 2012 and May 2013 the makers of Piz Buin received 80 consumer complaints relating to the product. During the same period, 875,550 units were sold to trade in the UK and Ireland.

By Tara Lever