Baby Wipes Linked to Reports of Serious Rash, Allergic Reaction: Study

Researchers are warning parents and caregivers about the potential risk of severe allergic reactions and rashes that may be caused by chemicals used in baby wipes or wet wipes.

According to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, a common preservative used in baby wipes may be the cause of severe allergic reactions in children.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) is a combination preservative which is used in many personal care items and household products. However, MCI/MI is also a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). More recently manufacturers began using MI without MCI in consumer products to try to minimize allergic reactions

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Dr. Mary Wu Chang and a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine found increasing reports of children with severe skin allergic reactions on the face and the buttocks.

At least six reports of children with chronic itchy, red rashes were documented at the University of Connecticut Center for Help within a two year period. Prior to the outbreak of cases, only one known case was reported. A child in Belgium reportedly suffered from a case of ACD as a result of allergy to MCI/MI.

The six children tested positive for MCI/MI during a patch test. None of the children wore diapers. Instead, parents reported using wet wipes on the buttocks or face. The reactions were initially documented as eczema, impetigo or psoriasis; all common misdiagnoses. The infections were first treated with antibiotics and steroids, which cleared up the rashes initially; but the problems came back.

Researchers also noted, the severe rashes were cleared up completely after wipes were no longer used on the children.

A New Problem with Baby Wipes

These are the first reports of ACD connected to wet wipe use in the United States. It is also the largest series reported to date.

Typically baby wipes are not associated with allergic contact dermatitis. Researchers attribute the rise in the incidence of ACD to an increased use of MI in wet wipes. Over the last few years, manufacturers have increased the amount of MI used in wipes by an astounding 25-fold.

Parents continue to use the products because they are convenient for quick clean up of children’s accidents, especially while traveling.

Most baby wipes are labeled as hypoallergenic. The increased amount of MI in the products seem to be creating more children who are especially sensitized to the chemical preservative.

The chemical remains pervasive throughout everyday American life. It is a common ingredient not only in baby wipes, but also lotions, shampoos and other household products.

The study, warns these type of chemical preservatives should be avoided in personal care and household items, especially in patients with a known allergy.

“Wet wipes are increasingly marketed in personal care products for all ages, and MI exposure and sensitization will likely increase,” said Wu Chang, study author and associate professor of dermatology and pediatrics.
Researchers also recommend minimizing use while at home. They suggest using paper towels moistened with warm water or a gentle cleanser with water to clean children when at home and only using wet wipes while traveling.

4 Comments

  • susanJuly 28, 2017 at 3:41 am

    I too am dealing with a painful rash due to s cott personal wipes. Finally figured out what wAS THE CAUSE. i too think there shoulds be a law suit.

  • JeanieJuly 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    Dealing with this myself..will be a week tomorrow...never in a million years would I think a product intended for use to clean a sensitive area would cause you to feel like someone lit a match to your nether regions..I have a extreme rash and blisters that are bursting everyday.. one website compared it to having poison ivy..can you imagine having poison ivy "there".. makes it hard to work... call[Show More]Dealing with this myself..will be a week tomorrow...never in a million years would I think a product intended for use to clean a sensitive area would cause you to feel like someone lit a match to your nether regions..I have a extreme rash and blisters that are bursting everyday.. one website compared it to having poison ivy..can you imagine having poison ivy "there".. makes it hard to work... called the Dr. yesterday.. could not stand the pain anymore..he called me in a script for Prednisone..and Domeboro solution..the funny thing neither him..his nurse..or the pharmacist had heard of this..all I did was do some research and found all kinds of information..wow..I think someone needs to bring a lawsuit against the makers of this.. especially when one article I read said the manufacture knew of the allergy and were looking for alternative preservatives..no amount of money is worth this kind of pain..but if that is the only way to make them pay for being negligent then so be it..bring on the lawyers..

  • JasonMay 30, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Just found out about this chemical preservative. Had horrible experiences with it in regular wet wipes. Personally, Scott's "Naturals" labeled wipes. Caused severe rash in a place you don't want rashes. Was continually misdiagnosed for all sorts of skin reactions. Even had a colonoscopy done because they couldn't figure out why it looked like there was blood in my stool. Also, they started putting[Show More]Just found out about this chemical preservative. Had horrible experiences with it in regular wet wipes. Personally, Scott's "Naturals" labeled wipes. Caused severe rash in a place you don't want rashes. Was continually misdiagnosed for all sorts of skin reactions. Even had a colonoscopy done because they couldn't figure out why it looked like there was blood in my stool. Also, they started putting this chemical in lotions I used. Another tough and horrible lesson learned. Please read the ingredients list before you purchase anything for your home healthcare. Even things you've used in the past.

  • twMarch 25, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Are "wet wipes" being used re: Jon? These may be cause of severe allergy on face and arms.

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