Chemical preservative is likely culprit
A chemical preservative used in pre-moistened wipes and liquid soaps is leading to an increase in allergic skin reactions.
“In the last two or three years, we’ve suddenly seen a big increase in people with this type of allergy,” says Matthew Zirwas, M.D., director of the contact dermatitis center at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “For some patients, their rash has been unexplained and going on for years.”
The preservative, methylisothiazolinone, is found in many water-based products, including pre-moistened wipes, liquid soaps, hair products, cleaning products and sunscreen. According to Dr. Zirwas, concentrations of the preservative have increased in recent years, as manufacturers switched from paraben and formaldehyde. Now they are trying to develop yet another preservative.
The itchy, painful rash triggered by the preservative most often affects hands, faces, buttocks and genitals. If you suspect an allergy to a wipe, discontinue use for at least a month. “A week or two isn’t enough time,” Dr. Zirwas says.