How Baby Wipes Could Be Giving You Dermatitis

How Baby Wipes Could Be Giving You Dermatitis
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A type of preservative commonly used in disposable baby wipes has been linked to a rise in allergic contact dermatitis, new Australian research has found. And it’s not just parents at risk: the same preservative is also found in shampoos, conditioners, body washes, moisturisers, sunscreens, deodorants and paints.

Baby picture from Shutterstock

Methylisothiazolinone (MI) is a preservatives commonly used in wet baby wipes and other products to prevent bacterial contamination. Researchers from the Skin and Cancer Foundation included MI in their baseline patch tests for allergies following reports of increased numbers of cases of MI contact allergy. The preservative was found to be the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in the patient population.

“We have seen a rapid increase in the number of patients with contact allergy to MI”, chief researcher Dr Jennifer Cahill explained in a statement. “Our current rate of positive test reactions to MI to November 2013 is 11.3% (40 patients who had relevant reactions of a total 353), compared with a rate of 3.5% (15/428) in 2011 and 8.4% (38/454) in 2012.”

The most common source of MI during testing was disposable wet wipes, which are commonly used in nappy changing. The preservative is present in many popular brands of wipes used in Australia. Other common consumer sources of MI include make-up removal wipes, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, moisturisers, sunscreens and deodorants.

“Medical practitioners and consumers should be aware of the potential for allergic contact dermatitis to develop to MI from wipes, in particular causing persistent hand dermatitis,” Dr Cahill concluded.

[Medical Journal of Australia]


    • I suppose (having a baby and toddler myself) the only alternative is wet piece of terry towling cloth. Thats right just plain old water and cotton.

      It is increasingly becoming more apparent to me that as a population that we are addicted to products created by large multi-national corporations in the belief that these chemicals are good for us. 50 years ago we didn’t even have a third of the products back then that we do now.

      I blame modern convenient living as the main cause of a lot of medical conditions that we have to deal with now. Take mouth washes for example, whenever you have an infection very few doctors would actually recommend a commercial product when you only need to gargle salty water to keep infections under control.

    • My newborn had really bad nappy rash, after which we got into a routine of washing him in water for practically every nappy change. I guess we’ll have to start using cloth and bucket when he gets bigger.

  • So basically what they’re saying is we should avoid contact with the following:

    – baby wipes
    – make-up removal wipes
    – shampoos
    – conditioner s
    – body washes
    – moisturisers
    – sunscreens
    – deodorants

    I can see an issue here.

  • It was very handy that every news story I saw on TV about this today was kind enough to inform me that recently ‘Huggies’ reformulated their baby wipes to remove this.

    It was almost enough to make me skeptical that this being pushed in the media is a publicity campaign for them. When I say almost, I mean certainly.

  • I had this exact problem. I ended up with serriobic dermatitis after using deodorant and baby wipes. Although my dermatologist wasn’t convinced I have only developed it in the past 3 years and I never used the products before then. definitely avoid its a condition which is constantly causing me grief.

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