the last two or three years, we’ve suddenly seen a big increase in people with
this type of allergy,” said Dr. Matthew Zirwas, director of the
contact dermatitis center at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “For some patients, their rash has been
unexplained and going on for years.”
says the chemical preservative is MI (methylisothiazolinone) and it has been
around for years. MI is found in many water-based products like liquid soaps,
hair products, sunscreen, cosmetics, laundry products and cleaners as well as
pre-moistened personal hygiene products and baby wipes.
of the preservative have increased dramatically in some products in the last
few years, as manufacturers stopped using other preservatives like paraben and
formaldehyde,” Zirwas said.
irritated skin can be red, raised, itchy and even blistery, appearing much like
a reaction to poison ivy. The three most
common areas affected by the allergic reaction include the face, from using soaps
and shampoos, the fingers and hands, from handling the wipes, and the buttocks
and genitals from using moistened flushable wipes.
Omiatek, an Ohio mother of two, says it took a year to figure out her allergy.
All that time, she endured the rashes on her hands and face.
tried to look for patterns and I journaled every time I had a flare-up,”
Omiatek said. “My allergist referred me to Dr. Zirwas’ clinic and, lo and
behold, it was a preservative in the baby wipes I was using. I was really
surprised, because I thought that the allergy would have appeared with my first
someone suspects an allergy to moistened wipes, they need to stop using them
for at least one month. A week or two isn’t enough time,” Zirwas said.
is nationally-known as a kind of ‘dermatologist detective.’ He has spent nearly
10 years sleuthing out the causes of mysterious rashes that others can’t solve.
Over the years, he has identified allergies to shoe glue, hot tub chemicals,
nickel in food, even a chemical in escalator hand rails. Patients have traveled
from as far as Alaska to have him diagnose their skin allergies.
says it isn’t clear how many Americans might react to MI, but he says
manufacturers are aware of the growing allergy problem and are working on
was named 2013 Allergen of the Year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.
quality video and photos are available for download: http://bit.ly/1mrtC75
Contact: Marti Leitch, Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media
Relations, 614-293-3737 or Marti.Leitch@osumc.edu