Baby wipes linked to rise in skin problems
The Sydney Morning Herald
March 3, 2014
Bridie Smith Science Editor, The Age
Dermatologists are reporting increasing numbers of parents and carers presenting with skin problems linked to using disposable baby wipes.
In a research letter published in The Medical Journal of Australia on Monday, dermatologist Rosemary Nixon from the Skin and Cancer Foundation reports that an ingredient used to prevent bacterial infection in moist wipes is now the most common cause of dermatitis in patients sampled.
The preservative, methylisothiazolinone or MI, accounted for 11.3 per cent of skin reactions in 353 patients seen at two clinics last year, up on 8.4 per cent in 2012 and 3.5 per cent in 2011.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of allergic reactions,” she said. “It could be because the concentration might be too high because it’s been on the skin too long, or because the skin is damaged, allowing the chemical to get through the epidermal barrier.”
Professor Nixon said patch testing for the ingredient started in 2011, after similar reports surfaced in Europe. She said the trend was also occurring in the US where, like in Australia, the preservative has been used in a range of water-based products, including cosmetics and personal products such as deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens and moisturisers since the early 2000s. Professor Nixon said she expected dermatitis caused by using wet wipes was probably under-diagnosed in adults, with many people putting the allergic reaction down to other factors because the red itchy rash appeared up to 48 hours after contact. In infants, an allergic reaction might be put down to nappy rash.
“I’m sure we only see the tip of the iceberg in our clinic; there’s probably a bit more out there than people realise,” she said.