Sunscreen prohibited in certain schools without written permission

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- No sunscreen at school unless you have a written note. That's according to a strange law across the nation preventing some kids from having sunscreen at school.

It's all because the FDA considers sunscreen a drug.

In Indiana, the decision is left to individual school districts on allowing children to bring sunscreen to school. Most allow it, but only with written notes from a doctor or parent.

IU Health Dermatologist, Dr. Melanie Kingsley said it can take just five minutes for some kids to develop sunburn.

"Even one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles the risk of developing melanoma later in life," she said.

Dr. Kingsley said it's important to parents to apply sunscreen on their children before they go to school, but also important for kids to have the options to apply more sunscreen throughout the day.

"If they’re out there for more than 2 hours, reapply after 2 hours, because the sun will break down the sunscreen after 2 hours. It won’t be effective any longer," explained Dr. Kingsley.

At Indianapolis Public Schools, their policy is in place to protect children with allergies to the chemicals in sunscreen.

"We treat sunscreen just like we treat any other type of medication. The student brings it to school. They take it to the nurses office. They bring it along with a signed parent consent form and then if they need to utilize that sunscreen, they go to the nurses office they go to the nurses office just like they would for any other medication," explained IPS Spokesperson, Carrie Cline Black.

At Hamilton Southeastern Schools, students can keep sunscreen with them or in their backpacks as long as they have a note from their parents and if their teachers are aware.

Most other school districts require a written note from a parent or doctors office and for the sunscreen to be kept in a nurse's office.

There's some concerns that kids might not adequate access to sunscreen if it's kept inside, especially during field trips and field days.

"I think a lot of parents send their kids to school and they don’t really realize how much sun exposure they have. Even 15 minutes a day of recess is additive, every day their doing that, so that’s sun damage that continue to build upon," said Dr. Kingsley.

Other states like Washington, Utah, and New York recently passed legislation allowing kids to use sunscreen at school without notes from their parents or doctors. There's a possibility Indiana lawmakers will look at that issue next year.

If you have questions about the policy at your child's school, contact their school district.

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