More adults seeing allergic reaction to wet wipes - KMSP-TV

More adults seeing allergic reaction to wet wipes

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(WJBK) -

Doctors say pre-moistened wipes are making life miserable for a growing number of adults.        
After suffering a painful allergic reaction Julie Omiatek now only uses water to tidy up her kids.
      
Without warning, she started getting rashes and blisters on her hands. For a year she kept a journal of everything she ate and touched and still couldn't find a cause. She says the rash would sometimes be on her face, too.

She went to a dermatitis clinic run by Dr. Matthew Zirwas through the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Zirwas is nationally known as a kind of dermatologist detective. He figured out it was the baby wipes Omiatek was using that was ravaging her hands.   

"She is lucky that we found it before it turned into something that was going on for years and was spreading to other areas," says Zirwas.   

Those "other areas" are where Zirwas is seeing the biggest problems. Turns out, some adult toiletry wipes share the same preservative as baby wipes.

"This is a chemical called methylisothiazolinone, and we use MI for short," Zirwas says. 

He adds the level of MI in some products has increased 25 times over the last few years. It's in everything from liquid soap to shampoo, but you rinse those products off.     

Zirwas recommends testing any wipes containing MI before you start using them.

"They can take the wipe and rub it on the inside of their arm right where their elbow is, twice a day for about a week. If they are allergic to the wipe, they should start to get a reaction there within a week," Zirwas says.

Experts say the companies that make wipes, whether for adults or for children, using the MI preservative are aware of the growing problem and are looking for alternatives.  

Doctors do say when people stop using the wipes the rash usually went away on its own.

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