In the Medscape news January 13, 2014, an online case report published in the journal, Pediatrics, reports that the preservative methylisothiazolinone (MI) in wet wipes leads to severe allergic contact dermatitis that may be mistaken for impetigo, eczema, or other skin disorders.
Larry Hand from Medscape writes, “Mary Wu Chang, MD, from the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Pediatrics, and medical student Radhika Nakrani, BS, from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, report that 6 children have presented with “chronic, recalcitrant perianal and/or facial dermatitis” after the use of 2 brands (Cottonelle and Huggie) of wet wipes. The problems resolved quickly and completely after use of the wipes stopped.” The authors of the study state, “As wet wipes are being increasingly marketed as personal care products for all ages, MI exposure and contact sensitization will likely increase. Dermatitis of the perianal, facial, and hand areas with a history of wet wipe use should raise suspicion of [allergic contact dermatitis ] to MI and prompt appropriate patch testing.” In all the cases studied, the authors confirmed that a standard patch testing was performed resulting in low MI concentrations.
According to the Environmental Working Group, this preservative is most irritating to the skin, eyes, and lungs as well as neurotoxic. The best way to keep germs away is washing with soap and water, and avoiding wet wipes. While you’re at it, avoid skin products with triclosan (hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap) to promote wellness as it is linked to liver and respiratory toxicity. The EWG reports that “even low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Further, the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.”