Did you know you probably have products in your bathroom that could be toxic to you or your child even though the product is marketed as something that people can use for hygiene? There is a common preservative found in personal care products like body wash and shampoo; called methylisothiazolinone [MI] that can cause severe skin reactions for people. You can also find MI in many water-based products, including pre-moistened wipes, cosmetics, liquid soaps, hair products, sunscreen, and laundry and cleaning products. According to a physician interviewed by WebMD, 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. The preservative can cause an itchy, painful rash that can include blisters and resembles a reaction to poison ivy. Areas of the body most often affected by an allergic reaction to methylisothiazolinone include: the buttocks and genitals from using moistened flushable wipes; the fingers and hands from handling the wipes; and the face from using soaps and shampoos. Treatments run from hospital-administered steroids to oatmeal baths, even oral steroids. One family told the Consumerist (a popular website for consumers to learn about questionable products and practices) they had a daughter who had a severe reaction to MI and finally figured out where she was being exposed to MI — Suave Kids Body Wash, a product made by Unilever and marketed as “hypoallergenic” and “safe for kids’ delicate skin.”
“Our hypoallergenic, ophthalmologist-tested Suave Kids® Free and Gentle Body Wash is dye-free and will not irritate your child’s skin,” the product description reads, in part. “Made specifically for kids’ skin, it helps make bath time tear-free.” According to the family, they continued to use this product through the entire process of trying to figure out what was causing the severe skin reaction mostly because of the “hypoallergenic label” and words like “free and gentle.” They’d continued to use the product during the entire process, because of those words.