Daily Mail Article 7th July 2013
Doctors call for a ban on face cream chemical blamed for an epidemic of skin allergies
- An estimated one in ten patients with eczema or dermatitis is allergic to the preservative methylisothiazolinone
- The chemical has been increasingly used in products since 2005 to extend there shelf life
- It is routinely added it to moisturisers, sun creams, shampoos and wet wipes
PUBLISHED: 01:57, 7 July 2013 | UPDATED: 01:59, 7 July 2013
Doctors are calling for an immediate ban on a face cream chemical they say has triggered one of the worst skin allergy epidemics ever seen.
Dermatologists estimate that one in ten patients they are seeing with eczema or dermatitis is allergic to the preservative – called methylisothiazolinone or MI – which has been increasingly used in products since 2005.
Cosmetics firms like MI because it extends the shelf life of their products. They routinely add it to moisturisers, sun creams, shampoos and wet wipes.
It is used in products including Nivea Daily Essentials face wipes, Piz Buin 1 Day Long Lotion, Clarins Extra-Firming Day Cream, L’Oreal RevitaLift Laser Renew, Molton Brown Paradisiac Pink Pepperpod Body Lotion and Wet Ones hand wipes.
Doctors blame the chemical for a massive surge in patients with rashes, scaling skin, swelling and eczema.
The problem will be discussed at a major dermatology conference in Liverpool this week.
Dr John McFadden, a consultant at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘This is one of the worst outbreaks of allergy to cosmetic products I have ever seen.
‘There hasn’t been anything on this scale before. We just don’t know when it will peak.’
Two years ago, MI allergy, identified with skin patch testing, was virtually unknown. But this year 10 per cent of patients with certain skin conditions are testing positive, according to the St John’s Institute of Dermatology in London and Nottingham University Hospitals. Studies from Denmark and Australia paint a similar picture.
Dr John English, a consultant dermatologist at Nottingham University Hospitals said: ‘This is an epidemic and urgent, immediate action is needed.
Every day we are seeing patients who are allergic to this chemical. Patients don’t realise it’s their cosmetics causing the problem so they keep on using them.’
Manufacturers started to use MI seriously about five years ago after it was approved by the European Commission as a preservative for products left on the skin in 2005.
At the time, the available data suggested it was safe. Experts say the true scale of the problem has only come to light as a result of it being used by millions of people.
The preservative stops products going mouldy by binding to microbes, preventing the bugs from thriving. However, the immune systems of some people mistakenly identify MI as a threat, prompting an allergic reaction.
Molton Brown said last night it would stop using MI from September. L’Oreal, Clarins and Wet Ones said their products were safe.
An EC spokesman said its scientists were looking into the concerns ‘in detail’.