Watch CBS News

Doctor: Toiletry Wipes Cause Rashes 'Equivalent To Poison Ivy'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- They may leave you with more than just a fresh feeling.

Popular pre-moistened toiletry wipes are causing an increased number of allergic reactions in Americans using them, according to doctors at the Ohio State University.

This is due to the fact that there has been an increase in a preservative in the wipes known as methylisothiazolinone or "MI."

"We've seen a significant rise in people who are allergic to it," said Matthew Zirwas, MD, director of the contact dermatitis center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  "I can't even begin to tell you how miserable these patients are.  They're walking around 24 hours a day with this rash equivalent to poison ivy."

According to Zirwas, MI is a preservative commonly used in everything from shampoos to liquid soaps. But since we rinse those off, they do not cause the allergic reactions of wet wipes that are not rinsed.

"Concentrations 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.

Those affected can have red, raised, itchy and even blistery skin much like a reaction to poison ivy, Zirwas said.

The most common areas affected 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, Zirwas said.

Zirwas said while it isn't clear how many people may react to MI, manufacturers are aware of the growing allergy problem and are working on alternatives.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.