Methylchloroisothiazolinone (or MCI), a common preservative used in some brands of baby wipes or moist towelettes is known to cause severe allergic rashes and blisters. The Archives of Dermatology reported cases of extremely painful allergic contact dermatitis (lesions) in adult patients.
When the use of the wipes was discontinued, the problem cleared up. The researchers write that patients “often continue to use the moist toilet paper with the belief that the cleansing will help heal the lesions” and “may not make the correlation that the moist toilet paper is the culprit.”
According to the Dermatology Online Journal (Department of Dermatology at UC Davis), MCI contains a mixture of antibacterial and fungicidal properties used in various products, such as baby wipes, moisturizing creams, shampoos, detergents, oil and cooling fluids, and paint, among other materials. The Environmental Working Group Cosmetic Safety Database lists nearly 1,400 products on the market that contain MCI.
Initially, baby wipes were used in Europe and then became popular for use by adults. Allergic reactions in European adults were confirmed by patch testing and resolved when use was discontinued. MCI started being used as a preservative in the United States in the 1980s. Fragrances used in the wipes could also be the culprit allergen.
Cosmetic use of MCI is restricted in Canada and Japan.