Are Baby Wipes Safe
There has been a lot of concern (and misinformation) regarding wipes and the dangers they can generate. Shocking photos of baby wipes that cause rash and skin irritation were circulating Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms with tags stating, “stop using baby wipes” and “baby wipes are dangerous”. The media warnings regarding the menace of wet wipes claimed children should never be exposed to wipes ‘no matter what’ yet, most of these allegations are bordering on fear mongering and over exaggerated threats.
Indeed, there have been cases in which children, like the ones in the viral photos, have developed those dangerous adverse reactions and negative side effects from using wipes. The culprit were not the wet wipes however, but a certain ingredient in the wipes that was causing the severe allergic reactions. This substance is methylisothiazolinone.
Methylisothiazolinone, also known as MIT for short, is a biocide found in some cosmetics and personal hygiene products like shampoos, lotions sunscreens and in this case particularly, also found in certain wipes. Being a biocide, MIT works as a preservative. A biocide is a chemical substance that works as a poison or pesticide helping eliminate harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Having MIT as part of the formulations of a product increases its shelf life, but it also comes with some negative consequences as it can be a skin sensitizer and can in addition cause dermatitis. More importantly, some people are also gravely allergic to this substance. Luckily most wipes today are not using MIT as a preservative any longer. However, it is always good practice to read the labels before making a purchase. Methylisothiazolinone can come in several forms/names so when in doubt watch out for: MI; 2-Methyl-3(2H)-isothiazolone, 3(2H)-Isothiazolone, 2-methyl-, Caswell No. 572A, 2-Methyl-4-isothiazoline-3-one.
Apart from methylisothiazolinone, another reason as to why wipes are deemed unsafe is due to
other additional ingredients that could be harmful to delicate skin. Some cleansing wipes available do contain certain ingredients that could run the risk of causing dryness, skin irritation, and rashes. more about it here. Seeking wipes that do not contain these harsh chemicals will be more beneficial for your baby at preventing these issues. Wipes that are dermatologically tested, hypoallergenic and free of: methylisothiazolinone, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, chlorine, alcohol, fragrances, and dyes will be the safest for your little one. The long list might look overwhelming but these days there are a lot of soft and gentle baby wipes that are conscientiously formulated with safer specifications in mind. Parasol baby wipes for instance, are plant based made for sensitive skin and made without harsh chemicals or ingredients.
As a takeaway, yes, most baby wipes are safe to use and even fine for newborns. It’s still always better to ask your pediatrician about when and which cleansing wipes to use so you can ensure absolute safety when learning how to change a diaper. If you suspect an allergy contact your doctor immediately.
Are baby wipes toxic?
There are many baby wipe uses, but if the wipes are being utilized for external use as intended, there is a low risk of wipes being toxic or harmful to the skin, especially if the wipes being used are formulated without harsh ingredients. Wipes are not edible, however and can be toxic if ingested. When handling wipes make sure to dispose of them properly and always out of reach from children. If your baby gets their hands on a wipe, and they happen to put it inside their mouth it can be dangerous for them. When a baby sucks on wipes, they are drawing out the harmful chemicals in the wipes and swallowing them. In addition, letting a baby chew on a wipe is also not wise as they can be a choking hazard. Babies can furthermore tear the wipe and accidentally ingest loose threads and fabric pieces. It’s always best to place wipes in an unreachable place from children and disposing them out of sight.
Disposing Wipes. Are they safe to flush?
Wipes should not be disposed through flushing. Regardless of what the label might say or if they are specified as ‘safe to flush’, wipes should never be flushed down the toilet. The question is not whether they will flush or not, as most of them will be flushed right through without apparent visual complications like clogging your toilet or having to use a plunger. It is not an issue of them flushing, but what happens once they have been disposed of in this manner. Flushed wipes can clog and damage the plumbing systems and septic tanks. Flushed wipes end up in rivers and oceans where most wipes will never biodegrade causing further harm to our ecosystem.