While the full name is a mouthful, you might have heard of MCI/MI. Several posts about the ingredient’s presence in baby wipes went viral due to the severity of the skin reactions it caused in babies. MCI/MI (commonly used as a combination) are preservatives that are published allergens, and the American Contact Dermatitis Society chose Methylisothiazolinone as its Allergen of the Year in 2013. It is extremely allergenic, so much so that MCI/MI is banned in Europe in products that are meant to stay on the skin. Its presence in baby wipes (used on very young, delicate skin) is particularly troubling, but it is important to note that MCI/MI is found in many other products, including:
- Makeup removing wipes
- Makeup, sunscreens, skincare, hair products
- Detergents and laundry products.
- Paints and polishes
- Glues and adhesives
- Some medicines (over-the-counter and prescription)
- Inks and more.
Reactions can occur from direct contact with MCI/MI and also from airborne contamination, such as when inhaling fumes from paints, inks, or pesticides.
Something else to note: the photo above shows the ingredients list of a brand of baby wipes currently widely available in several countries. While MCI/MI is the ingredient that can potentially cause the most severe reaction, it is nowhere near the only allergen present. A safer alternative for nappy changes is simple cotton and pure (organic, additive free) virgin coconut oil, or cotton and clean water. The same goes for adults with sensitive skin: consider plain virgin coconut oil or an allergen-free makeup remover instead of makeup-removing wipes.
If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.
On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.
To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.
Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.
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