Your Child's Rash May Be From Chemical Used In Baby Wipes
January 15, 2014

Your Child’s Rash May Be From Chemical Used In Baby Wipes

Ranjini Raghunath for - Your Universe Online

A chemical used in some baby wipes may cause an itchy skin rash that is often mistaken for a more serious skin condition, according to doctors at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

In the journal Pediatrics, they report six cases of children contracting skin allergy to the chemical methylisothiazolinone (MI), a preservative commonly used in wet wipes. Symptoms included swelling, blistering, red, itchy patches on the skin and tiny cracks in the mouth, cheek, hands and buttocks of the children.

The six cases reported at a Connecticut doctor’s office between 2011 and 2013 were of children between the ages of 3 and 8. The first case was a healthy eight-year-old girl whose symptoms were initially mistaken for a bacterial infection. Even after treating the child with antibiotics and steroids, however, her rash kept returning, the study reported.

When the doctors patch-tested her for MI allergy, they found that she had a “dramatic reaction” to the chemical, according to lead author Mary Chang. Once the child’s parents stopped using the wipes, the rash quickly disappeared in less than two days.

Baby wipes are normally tested rigorously and are generally safe to use, but children with allergic reactions to MI must stop using products that contain the chemical, the authors advise.

Patients with allergies should also avoid using other products that contain the preservative such as shampoos and lotions, Chang told CBS News.

Earlier, household products and cosmetics used a combination of MI and another preservative called methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), which was clearly known to cause skin reactions. As a result, manufacturers started using MI as a stand-alone preservative instead.

The switch, however, prompted concentrations of MI in cosmetic products to rise greatly, more than 25 times over, the study reported.

Parents should check product labels and avoid products that contain the preservative if their child develops this type of allergic reaction, the authors advise.

“As wet wipes are being increasingly marketed as personal care products for all ages, MI exposure and contact sensitization will likely increase,” they wrote.

The wipes used in the study belonged to the brands Huggies and Cottonelle, both made and sold by the company Kimberley-Clark Corporation. The company issued a statement saying that they would soon stop using MI as a preservative in their wipes.

“While our wipe products remain safe for use, we recognize that recent studies have raised concerns about the use of MI as a preservative ingredient,” Bob Brand, company spokesperson said in a statement.

“We have been evaluating alternative preservative options over the past few years, and are now ready to confirm that, beginning this month, Kimberly-Clark will start introducing new wet wipes that are MI-free across its entire product range in the U.S., Canada, Europe and other global markets.”