Baby Wipes Ingredient Could Be Leading to Painful Rashes

Diaper rash is a common enemy of parents, but a new study suggests a scaly looking rash that cracks dry skin might be caused by an ingredient in baby wipes themselves.

rash from wipes
A new study evaluating several cases of rashes linked them to an preservative common in baby wipes. The study authors warn that the preservative could be making its way into more personal care products as well. (Photo credit: Dr. Mary Wu Chang)

The study led by Dr. Mary Wu Chang, associate professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of Connecticut Health Center, identified methylchloroisothiazolinone, a preservative in some wipes, as the cause of allergic contact dermatitis.

“Wet wipes are extensively tested and traditionally believed to be innocuous,” the study abstract said. “[Methylchloroisothiazolinone] in wet wipes (“baby wipes”) has not been previously reported to cause [allergic contact dermatitis] in children in the United States.”

But the study evaluated six children in the United States with reported cases of such a reaction on their bottoms and/or faces. None of the subjects wore diapers anymore, but the wipes were still used. The authors wrote that this is the first report of such allergic cases related to the preservative in wipes in the United States.

According to NBC News, these six patients were identified at the University of Connecticut alone. The study said the reactions are often misdiagnosed as eczema or psoriasis.

“Discontinuation of wipes resulted in rapid and complete resolution,” the authors wrote.

Huggies and Cottenelle, both manufactured by Kimberly-Clark Corp., were the two brands associated with the ingredient in the study.

“While our wipe products remain safe for use, we recognize that recent studies have raised concerns about the use of [methylchloroisothiazolinone] as a preservative ingredient,” company spokesman Bob Brand told HealthDay News.

Brand added though that the company has been developing options that don’t use this preservative, which it will begin selling this month.

Not all people will necessarily experience a reaction against the ingredient. Chang told NBC News that these findings should not necessarily dissuade parents from using the wipes.

“They’re so convenient,” she told NBC. “I have three kids, so I know how hard it is to do the changes, especially when you’re traveling. But maybe when you’re at home, it would be better to use a gentle cleanser and water. That way you minimize exposure.”

Dr. Carla Davis with Texas Children’s Hospital’s allergy program echoed these sentiments as well.

“We’re talking about a very small proportion of people who will have a problem with [methylchloroisothiazolinone]. So, really, parents should be comfortable using wipes until or unless their child develops a rash that doesn’t resolve in the regular manner,” Davis said, according to HealthDay News. “But if that happens and the rash is persistent, then the wipes could be a problem and testing should be pursued by a dermatologist.”

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

(H/T: Daily Mail)