OKLAHOMA CITY — Products many of us use every day to stay clean and fresh could leave you with a painful rash. Doctors are seeing it here in the metro. They tell us a change in the ingredients in the last few years is to blame. "It is incredibly itchy and very, very sensitive. People with this problem are miserable," said Integris dermatologist Elizabeth Prater. Dr. Prater has seen a rise in the number of patients allergic to an ingredient found in many cosmetics. It's a chemical preservative called methylisothiazolinone, or MI. We found it in body wash, bath soaps, shampoos, and hand soaps, but the most frequent culprit, dermatologists say, is bathroom wipes, causing a painful rash on your most sensitive areas. "We will see bright redness and scaling," said Dr. Prater. "And it can be really painful in the area. Dr. prater said most of the time people don't realize the wipes are causing the problem, and continued use makes a bad problem even worse. "It feeds on itself often," she said. "People may initially have a problem. Then they use the wipes to try to get rid of it, and it gets worse and worse until it almost spirals out of control." The makers of these products started adding higher concentrations of MI a few years ago as other preservatives were phased out, also because of allergic reactions. Those manufacturers are now trying to come up with another alternative.If you have a reaction, it could take 4 weeks of not using the product to find relief. "Even using it every 2 weeks might be enough to keep a reaction going," said Dr. Prater. So when it's cut out, it needs to be cut out completely." For many families, cleansing wipes are convenient way to stay fresh on the go, but Dr. Prater says you should consider trading them out for old-fashioned soap and water. "I think there's something to be said for doing things the old fashioned way," said Dr. Prater. "You can still be gentle and clean without using wipes." An allergic reaction to MI happens after prolonged exposure, which is why adults have issues more frequently than children. That also means even if you don't have a reaction now, you could still get one if you continue using products with methylizothiazolinone.
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