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Baby Wipe Rashes

Yikes! The Baby Wipe Ingredient That's Triggering Nasty Rashes

We are proud to present this article from our partners at Yahoo! Shine.

Any parent knows how convenient baby wipes are, and not just for diaper changes. Moist wipes are great for cleaning up older kids' dirty hands and faces, and they are increasingly being marketed to adults as toilet paper and facial cleansers. While they're usually labeled safe for sensitive skin, a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday has linked a preservative found in many brands of wipes to itchy, scaly, and painful rashes — even some wipes touted as hypoallergenic. It's the first time that the chemical methylisothiazolinone (MI) has been reported to cause allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) in children in the United States.

Related: Seven Alternative Uses For Baby Wipes

The authors, Dr. Mary Wu Chang, a dermatologist and professor at the University of Connecticut, and Radhika Nakrani, one of her medical students, looked at the cases of six children, ages 3 to 8, who suffered from persistent rashes that did not respond to topical and oral antibiotics and steroids. Since the rashes were located on the children's hands, faces, and bottoms, Chang asked their parents about exposure to wipes. The parents all confirmed that they regularly used two brands of moist wipes on their children: Huggies and Cottonelle, both produced by Kimberly-Clark. Patch tests revealed that the kids were allergic to MI. Their skin cleared up within days of discontinuing use of the wipes, and the rashes did not come back.

"This preservative is not new," Chang told HealthDay. "But it was used as a combination preservative [with methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)] for many years. To try to minimize allergic reactions, it is now being used as a single preservative but in higher concentrations, and now people are developing allergic rashes to the new formulation." According to Chang's study, the amount of MI in some products has been increased from 3.7 parts per million to as much as 100 parts per million, the maximum allowed by the FDA, since 2006 when the MI-MCI combination was phased out. In addition to wipes, according to Skin and Allergy News, MI is found in at least 2,600 personal care products sold in the United States, including shampoo, lotion, sunblock, and shower gel.


In December 2013, Cosmetics Europe, the trade commission that oversees the personal care product industry in the European Union, told its members to voluntarily stop using MI in the products they manufacture. According to the UK's Telegraph, the British Association of Dermatologists first raised the alarm six months earlier, reporting that about one in 10 patients showing up at its members' offices plagued by skin rashes such as eczema and ACD was, in fact, allergic to the preservative. MI is currently banned from cosmetics in Canada and Japan.

A spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark provided a statement to Yahoo! Shine by email that stated, "Kimberly-Clark has a long history of providing products that improve the health, hygiene, and well-being of families everywhere and is constantly striving to identify and develop new solutions that respond to our consumers' needs. 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." It continued, "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 US, Canada, Europe, and other global markets."

If you or your children experience skin rashes, it makes sense to read labels and avoid purchasing personal care products and cosmetics containing MI. Even if you aren't allergic, regular exposure can cause allergies to develop over time. "More and more people are using these products and becoming sensitized to the preservative," said Chang.

— Sarah B. Weir

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Join The Conversation
LillaT LillaT 3 years
I never use wipes on my lo's face or hands as her skin is really sensitive. On her bottom we tried huggies, Nivea, pampers all sensitive range, but none was good. We used water wipes which was great as it has no nasties only grapefruit seed extract and water (99%).
jazniacollins jazniacollins 3 years
this is sooooo true! i have used commercial wipes for years!!! throughout my adulthood, and then when i had my own children I used them with even greater frquency. i began having a nasty rash on my fingertips/hands. one doctor said it was a fungus. it took several doctors and trials but finally i took this topical test through my dermatologist that had to be done over three days and it found i was allergic to 2 chemicals/preservatives that are highly prevalent in baby wipes: bromo-nitropropane and 2-n-Octyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one. these chemicals have other names and i developed the allergy over time in adulthood even though i had never shown any sensitivity in the past. please be aware. i now use papertowel and water basically and the rash on my hands went away over time.
CoMMember136301146939731363011969 CoMMember136301146939731363011969 3 years
I'm going to have to tell my dh. We always use pampers sensitive wipes and a few times when our budget was a little tighter we would buy walmart name brand wipes and my sons but would break out something terrible . He would tell me it was all in my head and it was just something he ate . He would say it was caused by the acids in his poop!! Men.........I guess I'm going to have to go through our bath and lotion products to see if mci is in any of it.. I know my son has been battling eczema on his legs. and we can't seem to ever get it totally cleared up. THANKS for posting this article!
KylieWhite88853 KylieWhite88853 3 years
I have just purchased Huggies pure wipes today as my daughter and I both have very sensitive skin and am angry to see M I in list of ingredients. States on pack "gentle cleansing like cotton wool and water"!! I will go back to Johnsons unscented or Baby Solutions unscented (kmart brand) after reading this article.Thank you for alerting me to this
Heidabelle Heidabelle 3 years
This angers me!! It took 4 dermatologists to finally tell me what the horrible blistering, bleeding, painful rash was from on my 4 year olds bottom. At first I thought it was due to something eczema related then starting thinking it was the brand of toilet paper we used. But of course! It was the BABY wipes (SENSITIVE none the less!) which was creating a massacre on my sons skin. SHAME ON YOU! Shame on all you, the FDA, the companies that sell these products and EVERYONE involved- for allowing this CHEMICAL to touch the precious skin of these babies, and ANYONE regardless of age. I wish everyone would support EWG, and use their website as a tool. You can view products chemical content and safety. THANK YOU for posting this article- parents need to be aware and boycott these half arse companies and the poison they sell.
Samara45074 Samara45074 3 years
Amazing! So glad I came across this! I've used Pampers Sensitive wipes on my 16mon old since he was born but tried to switch to a cheaper brand. Poor child was red, raw and miserable! His poor little butt, lower belly and thighs down to his knees felt like sandpaper, so dry, red & inflamed. I felt so badly for him. I had just introduced a few new foods to him before the rash as well & so I suspected the peanut butter initially. But after stopping the new foods the rash remained just as bad if not worse than before when it dawned on me- the wipes! Neither diaper creams, topical steroids, anti fungal creams made even a bit of difference but as soon as I changed back to the Pampers Sensitive wipes the rash began to improve. Took nearly a month for it all to go away! What a shame it is that these ingredients make it so easily into products used on babies.
DeniseAgnew DeniseAgnew 3 years
I use Certified Organic Wipes from Neal's Yard Remedies. It contains aloe vera and white tea antioxidants with no chemicals. Https://
AmandaI1389593520 AmandaI1389593520 3 years
My daughter is severely allergic to huggies wipes. It was an allergy that developed overtime. Her whole face would swell up. We thought it was peanuts at first. Went through all the allergists tests. Specialists everything. Nothing. I suspected the wipes, switched to target brand. Much better. When I signed her up for preschool I said that she was allergic the huggies wipes, even the hyper allergenic. They looked at me like I was crazy. I even went so far as to buy a case of target wipes for her classroom.
AshleyBurt AshleyBurt 3 years
Good to know the background story on MI, I seem to be allergic to everything I come into contact with.
LadyoftheIvy LadyoftheIvy 3 years
We discovered nearly 3 1/2 years ago several members of our family has a sensitivity to this, and it took multiple doctors before we found one who finally figured it out without dismissing it as something else (and then not really having a treatment for it). I'm glad it's finally becoming more widely recognized!
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