Unexplained rash? It could be MCI/MI in your baby wipes

Has your child had a severe rash that couldn't be treated with topical creams and oral antibiotics and steroids? It could be contact with a substance which contains a combination preservative designated as MCI/MI (Methychloroisothiazolinone or Methylisothiazolinone) found in some baby wipes.

An article released today from Pediatrics describes six cases of a stubborn contact dermatitis to what is generally considered to be an innocuous product – baby wipes.The wipes were not immediately suspected to be the culprit, but despite active treatment with multiple topical and oral antibiotics and steroids, the rash only resolved after discontinuation of the wipes. It turned out that these wipes had MCI/MI.

Baby wipes are generally very safe and the presence of MCI/MI in baby wipes had not previously been reported to be an extensive problem in infants. However, all the patients in the article were patch tested and were found to be positive for MCI/MI.

Besides baby wipes, MCI/MI is found in many common products around the home, including cosmetics, cleaning products, waxes and polishes, paints, skin creams, tanning products, hair care products, laundry products and personal hygiene items such as soaps and wet wipes. The rash of an allergic contact dermatitis can be red, raised and even blistery or weepy. A good example of the rash of allergic contact dermatitis is that of poison oak or poison ivy dermatitis. If your child has an unexplained contact dermatitis looking rash, then it is reasonable to think of products that may contain MCI/MI that are coming in contact with his or her skin.

It should be noted that not all baby wipes contain MCI/MI, so reading labels is important. If your child has an unexplained rash with the features described above, see your allergist or dermatologist. If it is not obvious by history what the rash is due to, your doctor may be able to do a patch test to determine the cause. If it is indeed MCI/MI, then the best way to treat this is prevention, which means avoidance of any product with these ingredients.

Here’s what to look for on a label:

  • Methychloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylisothiazolinone

The prevalence of MCI/MI contact allergy has increased significantly in recent years, so much so that the substance had the dubious distinction of being named the 2013 “Allergen of the Year” by the American
Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS)!


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