Disposable baby wipes are causing an increasing number of cases of allergic contact dermatitis in parents, carers and possibly their children, according to a research letter published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Methylisothiazolinone (MI) has been used in a range of cosmetic and personal products, including disposable wet wipes, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, moisturisers, sunscreens and deodorants, as well as in paints, cooling tower water and cutting oils since the early 2000s.
Dr Jennifer Cahill, a dermatologist with the Skin and Cancer Foundation Inc, and her team, have included MI in their patch tests for allergies since 2011, after European reports of increased numbers of cases of contact allergy.
“MI is now the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in our patient population,” Dr Cahill writes in the medical journal.
The 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
Preservatives such as MI are needed in moist wipes to prevent bacterial contamination.
“It is parents using baby wipes on their children who are presenting with hand dermatitis, although it is likely that allergic contact dermatitis involving the groin in children may not be diagnosed accurately,” Dr Cahill said.
“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.”