Common baby products the leading cause of eczema

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

Common household products infused with fragrances are triggering allergic reactions in children, a new study has found.

Baby wipes and toy slime loaded with fragrances and preservatives, are leading causes of childhood allergic contact dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema, an itchy red rash that can result in skin scales, sores, discomfort and infection.

The incidences of this type of dermatitis is on the rise and common household products such as wipes, shampoo, cosmetics and soap are contributing to the upsurge in skin contact allergies in adults and children alike. The study was published this week in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology.

Lead study author Claire Felmingham said that the allergens were in the process of being removed from many products, but that, "it's not surprising that they've also affected the paediatric population," due to their continued use in baby wipes and toy slime.

Patch test data from 511 children from 1993 to 2017 was analysed by researchers who found that the most common "... reactions were fragrance mix, methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) and methylisothiazolinone (MI), Myroxylon pereirae, nickel sulphate, and colophonium," which are all found in household products used on the body and face.

Felmingham told the Sydney Morning Herald that MCI/MI and MI were especially "potent allergens" that had been described as causing an "epidemic" of allergic contact dermatitis in adults and should be generally avoided even without a diagnosed allergy."

In children aged six to 10, fragrance and colophonium triggered the most reactions. In the 11-17 age range, fragrance and nickel sulphate were the most triggering.

There was little data on the zero to five age bracket as patch tests are not commonly performed on very young children and babies, which means that allergic contact dermatitis is underdiagnosed in this portion of the population.

The results have inspired the researchers to propose a standardised patch-test covering 30 allergens (called the Australian Paediatric Baseline Series) for children with suspected ACD.

Parents should consider patch-testing when their child's skin condition is resistant to treatment and avoiding products containing allergy-triggering ingredients.