Guess what caused this horrific allergic reaction?

Guess what caused this horrific allergic reaction?

Read this article to find out... you'll never imagine what the cause is.

From the day your child is born, you look for the best, most gentle baby-care products out there to provide optimum care for your little angel.

One such product is baby wipes. You use them on your child from day 1 – whether to clean your newborn’s little bum-bum or to wipe smears of chocolate off the face of your 3-year old.

They are the convenient solution for the inevitable messiness of children.

Never would you imagine that baby wipes can cause terrible harm to your precious child. But they can.

MI in baby wipes

The terrible rash caused by the chemical MI in baby wipes around the girl’s mouth
Image from Dr Mary Chang

What makes some baby wipes harmful?

Research has found that Methylisothiazolin (MI), a chemical preservative used in some brands of baby wipes, can cause severe allergic reactions in some children in the form of a painful red rash on the part of the body that the wipe is used on.

Until now, the link between MI and allergic reactions had not been made. But researchers on the study think this could be due to the reactions being misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as eczema.

Dr Mary Wu Chang, an associate professor of dermatology and paediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, thinks this allergic reaction to the MI in baby wipes may be more common than people realise.

MI in baby wipes

That innocent box of wet wipes could contain dangerous chemicals that may harm your baby’s skin

The study that revealed it all

Scientists led by Dr Mary Chang at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine studied 6 children with severe rashes.

The first child was a girl who had a rash on her face and her buttocks. The 8-year old had already been treated with antibiotics and steroids but after each treatment, the rash reappeared.

The scientists suspected that she might be suffering from an allergic reaction so they asked her mother what she used to clean her. The girl’s mother explained that she used wet wipes to clean her daughter’s mouth and buttocks.

Dr Chang had read a report about a Belgian man who was allergic to the MI in baby wipes. So going on this hunch, she tested the child for an MI allergy and the results were positive.

Not surprisingly, when the girl’s mother then stopped using baby wipes, her rashes disappeared.

During the following two years, five more children were brought to the medical centre with similar rashes.

In each case, the rash disappeared as soon as the children were no longer cleaned with baby wipes.

MI in baby wipes

Once the use of wet wipes was stopped, the girl’s rash disappeared

MI is a preservative designed to extend shelf life, and has no useful properties for users of the products.

It’s also found in many cosmetics and experts say the scale of the allergic reactions to the chemical, which has been used increasingly since 2005, is alarming.

In Singapore, the popular Pigeon brand of baby wipes is believed to be free of the nasty chemical MI.

But if you want to try not using commercially manufactured wet wipes, here are some alternatives:

  • Good old water! Easy peasy, just wash your baby’s tushy with clean water and some mild baby wash. For a newborn, clean her bottom with clean cotton balls soaked in lukewarm water. If your older baby’s bottom just cannot be held under the tap without clogging up the drainage system, mop of as much of the mess as you can with soft toilet tissue soaked in water first.
MI in baby wipes

Clean warm water is the best way to clean your child

  • Cloth wipes/squares: Keep plenty of these handy in a box or container near your baby’s change table. Cloth wipes are environmentally friendly too. For each clean, soak the wipe in a solution of warm water with a few drops of any of the following: olive/almond oil; organic baby wash, organic tea tree oil (helps prevent nappy rash).
MI in baby wipes

Why not try cloth squares as an environmentally friendly, chemical-free alternative to wet wipes?

  • Renewable resource wipes: These environmentally friendly wipes are made out of materials such bamboo, which are then flushable or compostable when you are done with them. Since they’re biodegradable, they don’t contain nasty chemicals that could harm your baby’s skin.

Dr Chang advices that parents should not stop using baby wipes altogether. She knows how convenient they are especially when on the move, being a mum of 3 kids herself.

Her advice is simple. When at home, it’s better to use a gentle cleanser and water, minimising exposure to MI, if it is contained in the wipes you are using.

Remember, if your baby has sensitive skin, the best option by far to clean it is clean lukewarm water.

If you think your child has an allergy due to MI in baby wipes or other baby care products, consult your child’s pediatrician without delay.

If you’d like to watch a video that demonstrates how to make home-made baby wipes, click this link.


Do you use baby wipes or do you use an alternative? Let is know by leaving a comment below. 

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