How Baby Wipes Could Be Giving You Dermatitis

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]

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