Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) / Methylisothiazolinone (MI or MIT) / Isothiazolinone (Kathon CG) / Benzisothiazolinone (BIT) is harsh preservative and biocide (full list of possible names below) causing allergic reaction all over the globe – everything from swollen eyes; dry, bleeding skin; itchy patches to hands full of blisters…
all of those products contain one or more of isothiazolinone mixes
and some more products containing MIT & BIT
It has been even named as the Allergen of The Year 2013. Looking at some of the images from other people affected my reaction is nothing comparing to them.
I feel especially bad for babies with red patches and rash all over the faces and bottoms (sometimes very similar to nappy rash) from using the wipes by unaware mothers… so please share this with your family in friends, especially if they have children. My little one had eczema for the first few years of her life and once we stopped using wipes it went away almost completely…
I got some patches on my arms, neck, face, breast and around my eyes. At first it was just redness that turned into bumpy, itchy, dry, burning patches that get irritated even from water alone… There were nights when my husband had to hold me down for me not to scratch, even now few weeks after I stopped using almost anything (except for pure olive oil soap) and basic cosmetics from health store, my allergy affected skin is still itchy and sensitive.
I’ve been writing previously about my my struggle with eczema. I was blaming natural things such as stress, pollen, dust or mold for my terribly swollen eyes and itchy skin but then I came across (thanks to Stephanie – one of the readers) info about MIT and I was shocked to see images of hundreds of people with the same symptoms that I had over last 6 months… yes, 6 months (!) My allergy has started in October 2013 and now in 2014 I’m still struggling with it.
I have found many products containing those chemicals, often products that supposed to be gentle: for sensitive skin or babies… What surprised me the most is that companies producing eco friendly, organic, paraben free, nasties free, allergy tested cosmetics are stuffing their product with MIT as well (!)
Products containing deadly MI / MIT & other Isothiazolinone mixes
Alternative names: 2-Methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one, 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one, Acticide, Algucid, Amerstat 250, Benzisothiazolinone (BIT), Caswell # 572A, Euxyl K 100, Fennosan IT 21, Grotan, Grotan TK2, Isothiazolinone (Kathon), Kathon CG, Kordek, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), Methylisothiazolinone (MIT or MI), Mergal K7, Metatin GT, Mitco CC 32 L, Microcare, Neolone, Optiphen MIT, OriStar MIT, ProClin, SPX, Zonen MT
- Ecover bio and non-bio laundry gels (yes, this Ecover – the brand that supposed to be good for us and enviroment)
- Ecos laundry liquid (100% All Natural??? I don’t think so!)
- Huggies baby wipes (pictured)
- ASDA Eco-Friendly washing up liquid
- Febreze Air Effects air freshener in aerosol
- Inecto Coconut & Vanilla Shower Crème (pictured)
- Daz – liquid laundry detergent
- Fairy – gel laundry detergent (pictured)
- Fairy – dish washing liquid (pictured)
- Balys & Harding – most of the hand washes and hand creams (pictured)
- Asda’s Professional Formula hair mousse
- Asda’s Little Angels detangling baby shampoo (pictured)
- Timotei Golden Highlights Shampoo
- Vosene Kids Extra Shine Detangler Spray & Head Lice Repellent (pictured)
- Organix Coconut Milk Conditioner (pictured)
- Cif Cream Cleaner (pictured)
- Molton Brown hand wash
- 5 Star white board cleaner in spray
- Dove Go Fresh and most other Dove’s body washes
- Funky Farm Bath & Shower Gel for kids from Baylis & Harding
- Pantene Pro-V shampoos
- Head & Shoulders shampoos
- Lilly’s Eco Clean laundry products
- many wet colour cosmetics such as mascaras, foundations, lip glosses etc.
- some wall paints
- glue in some trainers and rubbery / plastic shoes
- antibacterial shoe insoles and other products stated to be antibacterial or anti mould
GOOD PRODUCTS that are MIT (and other harmful chemical) free
- Alba Botanica Hawaiian sunscreen, Hawaiian shampoo, lip balm and other products from the range
- Dr. Organic‘s Manuka Honey Rescue Cream, Pomegranate Cream, Lavender shampoo, Lavender roll on, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Monoi Moisture Melt Body Oil, Organic Rose Otto Cleansing Milk, Moroccan Argan Oil Skin Lotion and other products from the range and many more
- Lucas‘ Pawpaw Ointment
- Medela PureLan 100 Cream
Halos n Horns(the products are MI free but they do contain Diazolidinyl urea which is Formaldehyde / Formalin releaser, it irritates skin, especially parts affected previously with MI)
- Oliva – pure olive oil soap bar
- pure, food grade oils such as sweet almond oil from KTC (great to remove make up and moisture dry skin)
- Bentleys Organic shampoos & conditioners
- Hydromol ointment (3 in 1 emollient with no fragrances, colourings, additives or preservatives)
- BioD household cleaners and laundry detergents
- JĀSÖN Aloe Vera deodorant stick, shampoos, hair conditioners and more
- Dessert Essence Coconut Hair Defrizzer & Heat Protector
- Avalon Organics tea tree shampoo
- Beautiful Movements Cosmetics 100% pure mineral foundation, eye shadows and mascara
- pure unrefined shea butter or home-made shea butter body lotion
- home-made sweet almond oil and vanilla body oil
- DoubleBase gel
- Burt’s Bees products
If you are not sure if the product you are about to buy is safe for your skin check Skin Deep database, they have also handy smartphone app to check names or even scan product bar codes on the go.
I could not manage my allergy on my own, having had it for so long my patches become so sore, itchy that I could not leave the house, especially when it was sunny… my skin was on fire. I decided to see different doctor / dermatologist who finally didn’t blame it on stress or dust and gave me steroid ointments (lanolin not water based) and Hydromol – soft candle ointment (without addition of water again). She gave me also different pill antihistamines to take for next 30 days. Within 24 hours my skin almost completely stopped being itchy and patches started fading away. The doctor told me it will take couple of weeks / months before my skin will get back to normal.
In meantime I’m having patch test done to see if I’m allergic to anything else, other preservatives etc. There is 60+ cosmetic ingredients and fragrances on those patches, including MIT and it’s variations. I have to keep them on for the next couple of days. Will update this post with results shortly.
After the whole 5 days of wearing itchy plasters on my back (in July’s hot weather) and struggling to bathe without wetting my back, the patch test showed allergic reaction to formaldehyde / formalin alone (!) On the positive note the dermatologist at the hospital has confirmed that I have MI allergy from eczema on my face, arms and neck. Apparently the MI mix they are applying in the patch tests is not the latest formulation that cosmetic /chemical companies are using plus the strength of MI on the test is 10 times weaker than in actual products so generally the patch test is useless (!) The hospital has tied hands, despite numerous requests of pure MI to test, they have never received it and there is bunch of other patients (not only me) that need to be tested. I was advised to try to stay clear from anything containing MI and in case of contact eczema use strong steroid cream… something I knew already, before even starting the tests.
The perfectly round patches on my arms were not contact eczema but from the inside, either because my body had enough of all that MI or because we have just moved to the the new flat, still smelling of paint and many brands of wall paints do have MI in them so I was inhaling it for a longer while before the paint finally has dried out completely. I was also informed by Sam (one of the readers) that some particleboard furniture may contain formaldehyde and we have just bought couple of things for kids’ room from Ikea about the same time. It is used also in clothing, especially one that is easy iron and memory foam products such as pillows or mattress toppers.
Formaldehyde (also known as Methyl aldehyde, Methylene glycol, Methylene oxide, Formalin or Formol) is released from preservatives and other chemicals such as: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Bakzid P, Biocide DS 5249, Bronopol, Dantoin MDMH, Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Dimethylolmethyl, Dowicil 75, Dowicil 200, Hexamethylenetetramine, Germall II, Germall 115, Glydant, Glycine, Grotan BK, Grotan HD2, Imidazolidinyl urea, Methanal, Methyaldehyde, Methylene oxide, Morbicid, Myacide BT, N-(Hydroxymethyl) Glycine Monosodium Salt, Onyxide 200, Oxymethylene, Paraformaldehyde, Parmetol K50, Polyoxymethylene urea, Preventol D1, -D2, -D3, Quaternium 15 (quaternary ammonium salt), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Triadine-10, Tris Nitro, Triadine-10, Vancide TH and Veracur. It can also hides as tosylamide / formaldehyde resin in nail varnishes.
I checked all of the products in the house and found formaldehyde only in Blue Magic hair conditioner, which I haven’t been using personally, I could also get in contact with the formaldehyde but not on my face so the MI is still the only one to blame for most of the problems.
I have found on my phone couple of photos taken over the months showing some of the worst days / mornings.
Allergy affected swollen and itchy lips & swollen, itchy, burning, watery, inflamed eyes and peeling eyelids.
Post allergy eye: the skin is still damaged but it is healing since I don’t use any products containing MI (I used here nasties free Beautiful Movements Cosmetics eye shadow and mascara).
Started using Protopic (Tacrolimus) ointment prescribed by my doctor to replace steroid creams which in a longer run are not good for the skin (make it thinner). Protopic suppress the immune system so it doesn’t react to the triggers causing the allergic reaction. As it was expected (possible side effects listed on the leaflet) the ointment caused some horrible itching and burning sensation at first but my skin got used to it after couple of hours and now it seems to be doing actually some good. Red patches has faded away within 24 hours and skin seems to be moisturised / less flakey. The minus of this cream is that you should avoid sun exposure while using the cream, but for me living in UK it is not a problem as we are not getting many days of sun anyway. The ointment is also very sticky / oily so on my face I use rather at home, when I don’t go out or at night as it is impossible to use it under the make up.
I’m off any allergy medication. I stopped using Protopic and antihistamine pills many months ago. I successfully managed to minimise my allergic reactions simply by eliminating cosmetics containing both of the mentioned above chemicals. Since January last year I had only couple minor incidents after using or touching something in the stores or cafes. One of them happened last week when I got massive burn under my wedding ring from washing hands using unknown liquid soap at my daughter’s school. I usually carry soap bar with me but it was a school trip day, being in the hurry I forgot to take it. Below you can see how it looks even few days after the reaction… still painful and itchy.
If after getting rid of all cosmetics and household products containing MI you are still getting reaction consider that it could be: something in your partner cosmetics, allergy to other chemicals such as Quaternium 15 / Formaldehyde or other preservatives (there is plenty harmful chemicals out there), it could be dust mite or mould allergy, Formaldehyde in non-iron clothes, MI in rubber shoes and antibacterial insoles, MI in house paint, MI in glue or other craft products, something they use in your workplace, Formaldehyde in particle board furniture, air freshener, bubble solution for kids, perfume or liquid soap somewhere you visited, memory foam pillow or mattress topper, bacterial or fungal infection (from scratching), skin yeast infection (from prolonged use of steroid creams), toxic teabags, food allergies or even combination of few things at once… so best check with your GP to get professional advice and some tests done.
If you suffer from MI & formaldehyde allergy read here about toxic nail varnishes containing the later chemical.
I will be updating above lists of products as soon as I get hold of something new, in meantime you can read more about MIT allergy here: BBC Watchdog – update, MIT Victims, Allergy to Isothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone and Chloroisothiazolinone, Izothiazolinone Mix Allergy, Products free of Methylchloroisothiazolinone/Methylisothiazolinone (aka Kathon CG) or if you are UK resident sign the e-petition to ban companies from using this chemical (!)
More articles about MIT and related chemicals: Dermatitis Caused by Preservatives ☆ Isothiazolinone.
Dear Margot, thank you for this post and your other posts that I read regarding your skin condition. I have had pretty much exactly the same thing since January of this year (I have developed eczema and other itchy dry conditions on my face since my late 20’s). I have gone through many months without a flare up but this January it returned with a vengence on my face, neck and then down to my arms…it looks just like yours. I will definately try some of the products you have mentioned, at the moment I wash my face with emulsifying ointment and moisturise with oilatum cream it seems to be getting better very slowly but is still quite dry and peeling. My eyes were only swollen for a short time but I am still trying to get my face back to normal so that I can feel normal!. Tahnks again for your post
Lorina, Thank you very much for your comment. I really do hope the products I mentioned will help you. I think I have successfully eliminated most of MIT sources in the house but I’m still struggling with the itchy skin, it takes time to heal and go away completely…
Thanks for sharing this, Margot. As much as I love makeup and do a lot of beauty and makeup reviews, I’ve never heard of MIT. Fortunately, I’ve not allergic to it, but it shouldn’t keep me from being cautious and aware of what’s harmful. I’m glad you’re being proactive and doing the proper research for you and teaching others. Try Orico London. They’re UK-based and they’re mostly 100% natural. Try their superico skin oil. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152065509463527&set=a.386097938526.164775.30179223526&type=1&theater
Please take care of that eye!
Oh Margot that’s awful :( I’ve had eczema before in my 20s and it is no fun. For the household cleaning products, you can also look at the Ecover range that I think is free of MIT and other nasties. Hope you recover rapidly now that you have identified the problem xx
Thank you Jeanne!!! I use BioD at the moment (found it in Oxfam)… it does smell a bit better than Ecover but both brands are good / free from nasties.
And I use pure olive oil soap on my skin only – yucky and smelly but it does help ;)
Ecover can’t be trusted any more… they started adding MIT and BIT to their laundry gels (!)
Greetings from a fellow sufferer! For the list… I spotted MIT in some of Lilly’s Eco Clean laundry products:
What is interesting, in their values page (http://www.lillysecoclean.com/pages/our-values), they tell that MIT and MCI are listed as eco friendly ingredients in DIT list. (Living in the nordic countries, I am not familiar with what DIT is and swift googling did not reveal that.)
Thanks for the comment, sorry to hear about your allergy!
I went yesterday to Waitrose supermarket and I was shocked to see MIT in most of eco / organic / paraben free products (!) I went also to health store and I found many washing liquids full of different variations of MIT… can’t remember all names but Ecos and Ecover were among those brands. Companies don’t care about us or environment, only profit, MIT extend shelf life of products and that is all they are concerned about sadly…
As for the name DIT I’m not sure but as they are located in Ireland I would guess Dublin Institute of …. (something).
I just read some article and apparently every 12th adult and every 5th child showing up at the dermatologist with contact eczema is allergic to MIT (!) I wonder if that is not enough for the governments to force companies to stop this madness?
Thanks for getting this info out there, it’s great and there are so many of us suffering.
Patch testing proved I was allergic to formaldehyde and Quaternium 15 but I strongly suspect I’m also allergic to M1 and M2 as I occasionally still get painful dermatitis outbreaks and I can always trace it back to a product that contains M1 or M2. Interesting what you say about the patch testing not picking it up with you!
My outbreaks are pretty much non existent now as long as I read EVERY SINGLE LABEL before buying any beauty product and I have to wear gloves before using any cleaning products. People need to understand that products marketed as “organic” “natural” “eco friendly” etc can and many do, contain these nasty preservatives. As my dermatologist pointed out even uranium and arsenic are organic so the term means nothing!
I would advise anyone suffering to have patch testing done asap and then throw out everything in your cupboards and start again. I’ve found that some companies have products that contain M1 and M2 in some of their range but then other products are fine so you really do need to read the labels carefully. I have also found some fragrances give me breakouts and these can be tricky to pin point as they are just listed as fragrance. For this reason I try to stick to fragrance free products now as well.
I’m in Australia and find that QV, Cetaphil and Sukin products are all fabulous.
Hi, If you have a formaldehyde allergy watch out for particleboard furniture, I had a month of hell with terrible rashes, weeping eyes, itching etc when I bought a new chest of drawers from Ikea – the glue they use to bond the particles together is full of formaldehyde. If there is a problem with the production or a nail goes through the veneer, it leaks out formaldehyde
Hi, I’ve had eczema from birth and seemed to be allergic to everything but in my 30s things started to get worse! After battling with several doctors to see a consultant (and a very severe and quite scary reaction on a trip to Canada) I was finally referred (despite being told up to then to just put up with it as it was unlikely I would ever find out what it was!) Two great consultants and 100s of skin prick/patch and blood tests later we have more of an idea. The usual dust/spores/fur/feathers/pollen, etc but now also MIT, Formaldehyde, Balsam of Peru, perfume and cocomidopropyl betaine and even the steroid cream they were treating me with (amongst a few others). Finding suitable products without these ingredients is nigh on impossible but I have gradually been able to work out the worst offenders. I manage my condition by ensuring I never shower in very hot water, ALWAYS moisturise straight after washing (body and face) and am careful about fabrics (trying to stick to cotton and washing new clothes before wearing as they are often treated). My Couldn’t -live-without products are: Aveeno moisturiser (for body) Betty Hula wonder oil(for face), Avene moisturiser, cleanser, cold cream cleansing bar (all amaaaazing) and simple shampoo &conditioner. After years of pain, feeling embarrassed and upset by the state of my skin I am finally rash and redness free most of the time, my skin is no longer sore, painful, swollen, flakey, wrinkly or dry. Eating lots of fruit and veg with minimal processed food or sugar really helps and so does drinking lots of water. Yes, it’s hard sometimes when you scour the supermarket shelves and find not a single product you can use but you will find things on the net if you search hard enough! If I can get my skin looking normal then there is hope for everyone, you have to be patient, read every ingredient and work out what suits you. Don’t let allergies and eczema ruin your self esteem or rule your life any longer – persevere to see a dermatologist. Good luck in your quest!
Poor you! If it is of any help, I think that you have given me the solution of my eczema problem too. I too was told it was down to stress but I don’t think it is. I will try the products you mentioned.
Muriel, I’m so happy it may help you and at the same time sorry that you had to go through this, eczema is no fun, especially the one caused my MI, does heal for ages… I still have marks all over my arms that get irritated easily by anything but it is nothing comparing to previous months. And I have more space in the bathroom now, trashed almost everything and started from scratch, with natural cosmetics alone! :)
Coomber, I think that the clothes are part of the problem in my case. I haven’t even started with that but I definitely need to reorganize my wardrobe now and get rid of anything that is mix of different things and stick to cotton and linen alone instead, thanks for the tip!
Sam, thanks for letting me know. We have just bought recently some particle board furniture for girls room (Expedit shelves). Those in my room are pure pine that I stained myself, wondering now if MI could be in the stain…
Mandy, yes, it is ridiculous that the hospital have not strong enough MI to test, they are aware of that and frustrated as much as the patients… Maybe I should try private clinic somewhere but at the same time there is no need, all my reactions are always to the product containing some form of MI… so I just need to avoid it.
Hi Margot, I was diagnosed with a formaldehyde/quaternium-15 and MCI allergy this year also. It’s been terrible, some items I’ve used that don’t have these, or any of their sneaky alias’ in the ingredients list still set me off! I’m an actor so this is so distressing, but I’m slowly getting through it.
I’ve been using Paula’s Choice skin care, Clinique, Dr Bronner’s Soap and avoiding all nail and lash products and so far so good. I have been forgetting about laundry and dish soap, and at work it’s difficult as we have cleaners that douse my desk with nasty stuff regardless of the notes I leave. I’m currently home with a huge reaction I suspect came from something at work (printer ink, particleboard, the list goes on!)
I don’t believe banning the chemicals is the answer, as they’ll have to replace it with something that could be just as bad. All I’d like to see happen is a standardised ingredients list on everything that is skin contactable. That way, I don’t have to waste my time emailing these companies asking for the MSDS sheet, or the full list (Just try for some sunscreen and insect repellent companies, terrible service!).
Natural products are terrible, as they have ‘natural’ ingredients, they generally always have MCI in them to retard mold.
Anyway, thanks for the article! Anyone that has come across a toothpaste that has flouride but not MCI, I’d love to hear about it!!
thank you so much for sharing! I’ve had the same reaction around my eyes and have been dealing with it for months! I never had problems with allergies in all of my 30 years until now and no one has been able to pin it down to anything other than stress and a blanket, “allergic reaction and irritation”. I luckily changed eyedrops prior to finding this. but the very drops I was previously using had the chemicals you noted here. Thank you so, so much for sharing. It’s not only been painful, but upsetting to see my eyes aged 40 years beyond me. They are getting better. I have found that drinking raw, natural apple cider vinegar helps my skin allot and has been part of my healing routine. Again, thank you so much for sharing. I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am that I finally found real insight on my symptoms.
After 6 agonising months for my wife, whose hands have been constantly dry and cracking despite the amount of moisturiser that she applied on an hourly basis, we finally found out today that she is allergic to Cl + Me Isothiazolinone. We really hope that once she eliminates all variants of this ingredient from all products she uses, it will now start to recover. Let’s see…
Bec – you mentioned you were looking for a toothpaste with fluoride and no MCI. We use Colgate Total and it seems to fit your requirement according to the ingredients on the label and their website, although I haven’t contacted them to see if there is a full list of ingredients which might detail ingredients that don’t need to be declared (I don’t know if companies can avoid declaring certain ingredients, although I think it’s possible).
Margot – that’s some impressive patch test they stuck to your back. My wife first had a blood test which tested for around 12 common allergens (house dust mite, nuts, gluten, cat/dog fur, etc). This showed an allergy to house dust mite. Her situation didn’t improve, so she then had the patch test on the back like what you had, but hers only tested for 36 chemical allergens, so it seems that yours was more thorough as it tested for around 60..? Thank you so much for all the information you have posted here.
Forgot to add this link to the Colgate ingredients on their website.
P.S. We are based in UK, so had the patch test done on the NHS.
Bec – I’m rally sorry to hear all that and I can imagine how hard it can be, especially when you work around people (someone is always using something than can affect you – hair spray, desk cleaner etc.). Thank you for mentioning products you are using. I must check them out as I’m running out of options with my cosmetics and I’m really tired of the olive oil soap which is great for skin but does not smell good. Would also find a good, healthy toothpaste but haven’t been successful so far. Will keep you updated.
Melissa – I’m really happy that you have found the article helpful. I must try the natural apple cider vinegar you have mentioned, thanks for the tip! :)
Nigel – that is true, my test was a bit different as I used to work with pottery glazing chemicals at the time and acrylic paints (all of those came back negative). I suspect that the standard test has less patches because of that. Thank you very much for sharing the link to the Colgate toothpaste ingredients, I’m sure readers will find it useful.
Thank you for sharing. I am newly diagnosed & I’m lost in a world of all products that i’m allergic to.
I make natural cleaning and beauty products and have just had a customer (newly diagnosed) with this allergy email me asking about my products. This is the first time I have heard of it and would like to thank you all for sharing your stories! I am very sure none of my products contain it, but am going through my safety data sheets to make doubly sure. I think it’s outrageous that in this day and age such highly toxic chemicals can be put in our products (especially baby ones!) and if I do find anything with this disaster of a chemical in…I will remove the product, find an alternative ingredient or ditch the range entirely. I hope you all recover and find safe products.
My adult daughter also has a severe allergy to Methylisothiazolinone and is struggling massively as she seems to be reacting to almost everything she touches, carrier bags, plastic food wrapping, some paper products just to name a few. She has thrown out everything that has it listed it but it’s impossible to find out every single thing that contains it such as the food packaging etc. As she also has ME/CFS it is extremely bad for her as she can’t afford to use the energy it takes just to be safe in her own home. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, after her diagnosis from NHS allergy clinic she was given a list of some products that contain MIT, told to avoid it and then discharged!
Thank you everyone for your comments and tips. I’ve been suffering with really itchy hands, wrists, face and neck for about 5 years – sometimes I feel like scratching till I bleed. I thought I was just allergic to liquid soap and sun cream but your symptoms are identical to mine (apart from mine are less severe than some of yours). I will check all my cosmetic and cleaning products and change to your recommendations. Thank you so much for the information. Sarah.
Thanks for the information. I suffer dreadfully from something. I thought it was perhaps food allergies. My eyes puff up and itch. My neck , and ears too. I hope to get to an allergist one of these days to find the culprit/s. It must be the shampoo-and cosmetics. I’m always ashamed to was around after an episode, I hate looking like some creature. (my vanity) Thanks for the information, I know it is the problem and want to be healed. Tanya
“Astonish” hand soap has MI , so does the Martk & Spencer shower gels I loojed at yesterday. Thank you so much for this information, I’ve bern itching for 2 weeks, it feels like I have fallen into a in stinging nettle patch. Rash over 50% of my body, skin swollen and red-raw.
I spent a year, backwards and forwards to the doctors with peeling, sore hands and sore itchy patches on my body. Finally persuaded them to let me see a dermatologist privately (you still have to be referred). At last a sympathetic person! I was sent for skin tests, via the nhs, (which took almost another year) and thus found out I was allergic to Methylisothiazolinone. As everyone has said, it’s in so many things, from fairy liquid to clarins shower gel (until then my favourite). I gave away everything containing the culprit and my skin was great.
Then, and this is my warning to you, in early January my face was suddenly severely affected. I blamed everything – any cream made it sting. I was swollen and peeling. The doctor gave me steroids which reduced the swelling, but it came back and I had to take them again. I lost count of the moisturisers I tried and I was so depressed, it was a never ending cycle of redness, swelling and peeling.. I jokingly told our decorator it must be his fault – he had begun painting for us on 7th January. Then on 18th February we went on holiday – and within 3 days my face was totally better. Returned home early March – and it all began again so I began to do some research and came across the Watchdog article.
This time I phoned the dermatologist myself and got to see her this week. She confirmed that it was definitely the MIT in the paint and says it can be some weeks before it stops causing me a problem. Who would have thought that 2 months on, painted walls could cause rashes on my skin! It’s certainly not as bad as it was and she has prescribed some creams so I am hopeful that the end is in sight.
My own favourite cream, which I found after much trial and error, is Nivea Soft. It doesn’t cure anything but is one of the only things I can put on sore patches which doesn’t make them more painful.
Thank you so much for writing this article. I’m 39 years old and have had eczema all my life. I’ve been suffering with incredibly itchy and swollen eyes for many years and have never known what might be causing it. I know I’m allergic to cats and dogs and have a minor dust mite allergy from various blood and skin tests over the years. I can’t tell you how many tubes of steroid creams I’ve used on my eyes. The constant search for decent moisturisers etc etc. After reading this I’ve been avoiding all the chemicals listed here as much as possible. It’s incredible to me that this stuff is literally in everything. Well, it certainly seems that way! Avoiding these chemicals with constant checking of the products I’m buying has provided me incredible relief from my symptoms. I really can’t thank you enough!!
Hello! Do you know what mascara is safe to use? Many thanks!
Freda – same here, I was given printed out paper from internet about other names of the chemical, told to avoid and discharged.
Tanya – I hope you will find what is the problem, sometimes the least expected items is causing the worst damage, for me it was baby wipes I was using to remove make up and fabric softener in my laundry.
Natalie – thank you for the information, unfortunately most of the liquid hand soaps do have MI or it’s varieties (I walk around with my own soap bar).
Frances – yes, some wall paints also do contain MI, we had that here and once we moved instead of getting better I got worse, I had patches not only on my face but also arms, from inhaling… I had even dizzinesses and fever but I did not connect those things at first.
Nirit – I use Beautiful Movements mascara, eye shadows and foundation (beautifulmovementscosmetics.com) , all of their products are completely safe, you can buy them online directly from them or through Holland & Barrett website.
I have the same problem around my eyes. I first had an episode last year and tried seriously everything I could find. After countless attempts I finally found Clinique and their Moisture Surge Extended Relief Gel. And omg did it work. I love its quickness too. Its a little pricey but like told my bf I’d pay double or triple to not have this problem! I don’t exactly know what caused my flare up this time, I have been a stickler in my routine with no changes in anything. Suffered all day at work and finally got to the store this evening, already seeing improvement with one application. Couldn’t recommend enough!!
I recently used the Timote’ blonde highlights hair conditioner- ( proudly advertising contains no parabens) .
Within 48 hours I had a very unpleasant skin reaction on the right side of my face, just the same as other users- I couldn’t understand why – until I researched the net on the only different product I had used in the past 48 hours- hence the paraben free hair conditioner.
The information I found quite accidentally on this site and has been a great help to me and my GP in treating me.luckily I have taken an antihistamine every day for the last 8 years( citirizine 10mg daily) as I have some anomalies of allergies in the past. The citirizine didn’t do much but now I’m on a different and stronger one along with 1% hydrocortisone ointment – which in 24 hours has reduced the blisters under my eye and the redness from my chin and cheek- I hope this continues to improve.———
I just really am so pleased I discovered this web site and the information that has helped me – so a very big Thank you…………….information about these products should be widely known the government should put a control on it or at least a health warning
Additions— to my last comment – I omitted to add if I hadn’t been taking a low dose antihistamine for a long period of time – I fear my reaction would have been a lot more severe
Shanna, thank you, this Clinique cream sounds like a great product. I used to use their products years ago and was fine with them, I think I need to take a look at their range again.
Patricia – I’m happy to hear that you have found useful info on our site. For me the Timotei blonde shampoo was one of the first triggers… I was fine with it until they changed to paraben free formula replacing them with MIT. Unfortunately many paraben free cosmetics is stuffed with MIT, MCI or BIT, especially liquid cosmetics.
If after getting rid of all “bad” products you are still having reactions it can be something you are coming across during the day at work, in the shops (air fresheners for instance)… I once came out from charity store all itchy after staff used Febreze while I was inside. Next day all around my eyes was sore and red…
I’ve just stumbled upon this and I identify with everything – I had the same tests & was told I was just allergic to formaldehyde resin. Knowing that has made a huge difference (my eyes & neck used to break out in exactly the same way as your photos above and haven’t done since I cut out nail polishes containing formaldehyde), but I’ve always known that there was something else as well as I would still react to certain shampoos/washing liquids etc. I’ve just narrowed it down to the ingredient being Methylisothiazolinone and this post has helped me to confirm that what I’ve worked out is probably right so thankyou – I now have a much longer list of ingredients to squint at on the back of products :)
Over the past few years so many more nail polish brands are starting to be formaldehyde-free (people like Revlon & Chanel as well as the newer 3/5-free brands like Butter & Kure) which is great, so hopefully we will see the same for methylisothiazolinone-containing products too!
Romy, I’m very happy that the articles has helped you confirming what you suspected anyway :) I can totally relate to squinting to real ingredients on the back of the products… some brands make the print impossible to read. I often also scan barcode to check Skin Deep cosmetic database for ingredients.
And thank you for sharing the names of the nailpolishes, I did not know the Kure brand, will check them out, but I have discovered recently Orly and Sparitual brands (in TKMaxx) that are 5 free as well.
After reading about your bouts of eczema, I can certainly identify with the trauma. In February of 2014, I wore a costume jewellery ring to work that contained nickel, and that set of a train of allergic reactions on my hands, face arms and legs that seemed to go on forever. I finally “calmed my farm” in August 2015 and took a vacation overseas with my new Natio day moisturiser with SPF in it. Big mistake! Apparently contains MCI and set my skin off again for the whole time I was travelling. Luckily, I had an appointment to do the patch test with an excellent skin specialist when I got back to Australia, and have been diagnosed as allergic to Isothiazolinone – MC and MCI! So now, re think all the skin care products, body wash products, shampoo products, makeup products, ugh!!!! Why do manufacturers have to do this to us???
Hope everyone keeps posting products that are free of these chemicals when they find them.
I was also just patch tested, and turned up positive to the Kathon CG components. I live in the U.S.. I’m amazed at how many liquid personal care and household products contain these ingredients, even baby wipes labelled hypoallergenic!
This is a great find for info on eczema and reactions! I am so at wit’s end with this. I have had super intensive patch testing done-I had over a 100 things tested on my back, including my own products that I use daily-from a great dermatologist in NYC and it came back with allergies to cobalt. nickel, and thimerosal. The original, less intensive patch testing I had done from my regular derm came back with formaldehyde but I was told by this new doctor, who I trust more, that the basic testing is not very accurate, so have kind of disregarded that result, though I obviously do try and avoid formaldehyde. I have a huge packet printed out of all safe products for me from every brand based on my allergies-this was from the doctor who did the big patch test. I seemed to be fine for a while then have flareups and it’s always around my eyes-puffy eyelids, itchy, red, flakey, and sometimes my lips too. The weird thing is it definitely seems tied to my parents’ house-it seems to act up there but not other places I have recently lived. I’m so confused because my products haven’t changed from place to place. My other thought is dust mites because their house has 3 dogs and much more carpet and dust mites came up as a reaction for me when I saw an allergist. I just don’t know what I am reacting to anymore and how to figure it out and it’s driving me crazy. Has anyone else had an experience like this, where it seems more oriented to a particular place and comes and goes? So terrible. I hope we all can find some comfort from this horrible affliction!
Katrina – yes, i have it exactly the same. I am male. I used to use Bio-D washing powder, then i switched to Ecover for ease of purchasing and my skin is bad again, i am going back to Bio-D for a while and see what happens.
In general, can someone have a look at “Palmer’s cocoa butter formula fragrance free” for me please and see if it is a goodie or a baddie. Thank you
Thank you for your comments!! I’m really very sorry to hear so many people has been affected by those harmful chemicals….
Raewyn – yes, sunscreens were probably one of the first products to be using MIT… my first reaction years ago was to one of the sunscreens, at the time I thought it was sunburn. Only now years later I realized it was allergic reaction.
Pen – many, many baby wipes contain MIT and many baby cosmetics contains MIT as well plus diazolidinyl urea (formaldehyde releaser).
Katrina – some wall paints have MIT so this may be the reason why you react in some places more than others. Also air freshers are stuffed with those chemicals.
Simon – unfortunately Ecover started adding MIT to some of their products. I’m also using BioD, even washing up liquid. As for the Palmers as far as I remember most of their products contain MIT as well.
I have a bottle (palmers CBF fragrance free) on my desk, I cannot see it contained within, but perhaps it is hiding under another name. I have ordered some “Eygiptian magic” cream, only about 5 ingredients.
also boots have started selling an air purifier under the name Puressesntial it has 41 essential oils, might be good as an air freshner as it doesnt contain much which is not naturally occuring.
Both these items are pricey though.
The Egyptian magic cream looks good, also the Puresssential seem to contain mostly essential oils. As for the Palmers, according to Boots website it has Metylisothiazolinone (listed in hazards sectiion) http://www.boots.com/en/Palmers-Cocoa-Butter-Formula-Fragrance-Free-Body-Lotion-250ml_1039003/
Thank you, I feel like I am looking at a picture of myself! same eyes same stages. This situation started with me 3 years ago, but a life long sufferer of allergies thought this was a food or major mold. I was tested and found positive for Balsom of Peru which is then converted to Sodium Benzoite as a perervative. I am in the US and seems as though we are not as savvy or up on whats going on because the doctors don’t even know when I tell them about this perservative. I am on steroids now, had to go on to get my eye down, since it has been flared since Thanksgiving and I was getting depressed and have to work with glasses. I can’t really find a proper detergent, so I will use baking soda and vinegar, but shampoo is tricky I do have colored hair and can’t use just any product. Is there a consolidated list somewhere to reference, because there are derivatives and sometimes I am really not sure if they are all bad, I bought Aveda Shampoo and I really think that was it, but who knows because it looks like a derivative and you need a science degree to figure it out!. This costs alot of money, between the doctors and lost work, and the process of elimination that I have gone through – cut trees, repainted, new ac, new flooring, new makeup etc. it has been enormous load. Any suggestions I appreciate, and any correspondance because again, seems like the States are behind the times and I would like to lobby and get awareness as much as possible.
Shari, I completely understand. I’m getting frustrated myself. Every time I go to the shops I need to check all of the ingredients on everything I buy, look them up on internet before I take anything… and those cosmetics that have nothing bad in them can be quite pricey as well.
True test found I am allergic to Isothiazolinone/MCI-MI and 3 other things. However, the MCI etc. is in everything and I have been rinsing and using Cetaphil cream. I just bought Aveeno baby wash and shampoo, but have not tried it yet. I am researching for natural and organic if anyone might have ideas. It is a shame that companies are so greedy that making safe products for the public is not their concern!
Mary, check the ingredients… I remember reacting to something in Aveeno cream or lotion. Yes, it is ridiculous that things like this are happening and are legal.
I would recommend Arbonne products which combine nature with leading science. They have an amazing ingredients policy for all their health and wellness products. Full details of their policy which has been developed over the last 36 years can be found on my website.
Hazel, if I’m correct some Arbonne products contain urea which is formaldehyde releaser, the very allergen I’m talking about in this article, in addition to MIT.
Hi Margot. I spent the last few days scrolling the internet and found the photos of your eyes. I am almost 40 and have never in my life had an allergic reaction. I have no health issues and zero seasonal allergies. 5 days ago my eyes began watering uncontrollably out of nowhere. Then they became itchy, red, burning and what was most disturbing was that the skin around my eyes aged 20 years instantly! Terrible sallow very dry, thinner, lines and wrinkles appeared and redness. Just like your worst -day photos. I am completely baffled. The doctor said I have either bacterial or viral eye infection and prescribed antibiotic drops. The drops are not working. So the doctor said it is viral. But I’ve felt like it is an allergic reaction.
The ONLY thing that I have done differently whatsoever is use a few new product face “system” with a serum, toner spray, moisturizer etc. I mainly got doTerra verage moisturizer under and on my top eyelids and BOOM! Problems. I would hate to blame the product so quickly but the timing is suspect being that I am literally never sick and have no prior allergies. I am currently diving deeper into their ingredients and the product did not come up on the Skin Deep app. Do you know how I could best find ingredients? I need to know the right tools to look now. Also, thank you for posting those huggies wipes on you blog as we used those and one of our kiddos did not react well to them. We had no problems after we just began wetting paper towels a bit to clean his baby bottom.
I’m really sorry to hear about your reaction Elizabeth. I can imagine how frustrating it can be, especially when you can’t find the information on the products. Some companies do not list all ingredients on their website or even product bottles. You can always contact the company directly… They should be able to provide you with full list of ingredients.
THANK YOU!! I stumbled upon this article after researching further about my ‘dry, red & itchy eyes’ and thanking the universe that i found this! I am only 17 but have eyes that look like they belong to a 70 year old! I have been to many dermatologists and lots and lots of doctors who had no idea what was going on and never once even mentioned MIT! All my dermatologist prescribed me was hydrocortisone (Steroid Eye Ointment) which would clear it up no problem until the tube ran out and my dry, red and itchy eyes were back!! My eyes look almost identical to the picture you posted above as well as the patches on the neck so i am certainly positive it is MIT now! I will have allergy testing to see if theres anything else I’m allergic too and avoid any products that contain it at all costs! But Thanks again and i will defiantly be doing lots more research into the products i am using!!
I’m sorry to hear about this Gabby. I did not want to look in the mirror for months. My eyes were looking soooo old. I’m glad that you have found this article and images helpful. Good luck with your healing process. Sometimes it takes ages due to the skin memory and damage done by steroid creams but if you will avoid in future chemicals that caused the problem, it will eventually go away for good.
I have this allergy like you for 3 years. No doctors or dermatologist have told me about MI, MCI Allergy.
Until last week, I visit this dermatologist. He gave me patch test find I am allergy to MI, MCI. I use Dove shampoo. My laundry products “Earth”. No wonder all my clothing, bed sheets, pillow cases, towels etc..
I was explore in the whole environment of MI,MCI in my own home. I was itchy every night, never get good sleep for 3 years.
Thank you for your web. All of your experience told me more than my doctor told me. I live in Australia.
Thank you all of you in sharing your information.
I’m really happy I could help. I also did not find out from the doctors but from one of the readers who suggested MI after I posted my photos online. I start research and found the whole tone of products containing this chemical. Now I’m very careful when getting anything new, or even in new packaging. Companies do change ingredients all the time so even tried and tested products may become harmful any time…
Bingo! This makes so much sense to me. Thank you for posting…. I’ve been suffering since about September/October last year on and off. I was even prescribed steroids at one point when it was so bad and my eyes were so swollen and burning. I’ve just clicked about what might be causing it and started to suspect my bathroom cleaner ( as I had a new bathroom fitted last Autumn) and have been cleaning my bathroom religiously several times a week ever since with Cif Power Shine Bathroom…..going for patch test soon….started to look at the Internet for articles about bathroom cleane and allergic reactions and up popped your post! Thank you. I shall look into all my other products now.
Yes, Cif is definitely one of those with MIT. I used to clean with it often as well. Now I only use natural cleaning products. Sadly they are not as powerful but I rather have normal looking eyes than shinny bathtub :)
I use Neutrogena, Origins and Euceri cosmetic and they are perfect to me. I had some issue with standard makeup but now everything ok.
Great news, I’m glad to hear this Lala.
Margot and fellow sufferers,
OMG I am so glad (so sorry to say) I found this blog. I was just diagnosed today. I have had this problem since I had surgery in 07/2014. I am in the USA and I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden and it’s on’y on my eyes. I did my allergy test last week and that was ok, but I am doing the metals test this week. I go Monday to have the final reading but they did tell that this one is positive so far. I have thrown away and given so much of my makeup away, and let’s face it; us women love makeup. I thought it was the brands. I am on Amazon right now buying some face soap, deodorant and cleaning stuff., I want to gt rid of everything in my house. I even spent $50 on a pillow. Now I feel foolish but oh well, at least it’s nice (its an allergy pillow). Does anyone think or has anyone changed sheets? I even went to baby soap, then free and clear laundry soap thinking it would help and it didn’t. I am at a loss on this one. Sometimes I look like I got slapped in the eyes and it does get embarrassing.
Thank you for the great info and well wishes for all.
I’m glad I could help Heather!! I completely understand you as I was going through different phases… I was throwing away all my cosmetics, nail varnishes, buying new pillows, douves, I was even considering changing furniture because I thought maybe they release some poisonous chemicals. My first doctor was blaming it on stress (!) Only years later when I suggested it could be MIT I was sent for patch test.
Sorry to say – it is probably WORSE than you thought. What we are all experiencing and writing about is the various forms of skin reactions to the allergy associated with the biocides and/or preservatives mentioned above. These exposures have an internal effect also. Anyone suffering from the likes of, macular puckering, sclera lesions, vestibular schwannoma, acoustic neuroma, or dare I say it, MS? I STRONGLY suspect that these chemicals are the CAUSE of many disease processes. The medical delivery system seems way too focused on diagnosis and treatment. Not enough attention is being paid to what causes the diseases. For example, we KNOW that asbestos causes mesothelioma and asbestosis. Why is it still being mined and, in the USA, NOT entirely banned? I believe that this family of biocides and preservatives are at the root of many diseases.
I’m afraid you are right. We are getting poisoned with all those chemicals in household products, cosmetics and even in food.
Oh boy can I relate. My symptoms haven’t been nearly as severe, but I am very sensitive to propylene glycol, which is in almost every mass produced and commonly available food, drink, cosmetic and skin care product, and goes by more than 100 different names. I’m so glad your symptoms improved!
Thank you Eni!!
I’ve experienced idiopathic anaphylaxis since 2014. 8 ER trips, 2 of which I almost did not return. Have had multiple allergy tests. Have been on a low histamine diet, taking 3 24hr antihistamine daily, and have been off/on steroids for almost two years. Prior to 2014, I had similar symptoms to yours, red itchy eyes, dry patches and hives- but manageable with OTC meds. I had my first flu shot 12.14.14, and 5 days later almost died with first anaphylactic reaction. First skin prick test showed positive reactions & DR said to avoid almost everything: eggs, wheat, seafood, shellfish, apples…A year later and 6 more ER trips, finally went to specialist. Food and nature allergy tests are negative. Immunologist said previous read was most likely a histamine reaction, not allergies. Had to be steroid free for chemical sensitivity testing. Hooray, results are positive: Methylisothiazolinone (MI) is my trigger.
I’m glad that you have finally found out what was your trigger but I’m sorry that it had to take sooo long. It is crazy that this ingredient is even allowed in products after it has been named allergen of the year in 2013!!!
I am so glad I found your blog and can get some help from your posts! The same situation.. the same allergy..the same pain.. and the same country of origin! :-)
Pozdrawiam serdecznie i dziekuje za udostepnianie Twoich cennych wskazowek!
Hi Marta Paulina, I’m really sorry to hear about your allergy but I’m happy that you found my post helpful. Please, don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. Pozdrowienia z Brighton! :)
Thanks so much for this informative site. I am so grateful. I have all the same issues you mentioned here. I have tried so many things and even some of the so-called hypoallergenic products have these things. I realize they want to use preservatives for longer shelf life, but honestly, it is not hypoallergenic and not healthy. I would rather have an expiration date. I am so sick of breaking out. I too, moved into a place freshly painted, have too many allergies, and switch from product. I now have a great list to study. Hugs and blessings!
Thank you Kat, I’m really glad that you have found this site useful.
I hope you will figure out shortly which particular product is causing the allergy… it can prove very difficult since manufacturers change ingredients without warning. One day it may be ok to use and then next batch will cause huge reaction. I spend a lot of time in the shop studying the labels before I buy anything.
Thank you so much for this post. I had the same reaction all over my body just like in the photos in the summer 2016 when I used a sunscreen with the isothiazolinone compounds. It was easy to figure out that the sunscreen caused the rash, but I did not realize that the cause of my dermatitis on my face, which persisted after I stopped using the sunscreen, was isothiazolinone preservatives until I went through a patch test. When I googled about Methylisothiazolinone, I stumbled upon your wonderful blog post. Thank you so much for the informative and thorough article with photos. It was very helpful to read. The skin around my eyes looked the same shown in the photos. I am finally on the mend after getting rid of the products with Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone. I can’t believe how long it takes to heal the skin from the rash caused by these preservatives, but I’m trying to be patient. Thank you again!!
I’m glad my article helped you to diagnose the cause of your allergy Kaho and at the same time I’m sorry you had to go through this. Health professionals should be aware of the issue and point you in the right direction from the beginning. I also had to discover it on my own. Doctors were blaming stress for the first few years when it wasn’t so severe yet. Unfortunately MI allergy takes months to heal and any little contact with the chemical can trigger it all over again in the same spots that were previously affected. Hope you will get better soon!
I stumbled across your very informative postings. I have been struggling with inflammation, redness and itchiness on my face only for 3 years, a very itchy scalp and feeling wrung out as my body is fighting these invaders! After patch testing my strongest allergic reaction was Phenylenediamine (PPD) in hair dye and the Isothiazolinone as well as Nickel. I have eliminated getting my hair highlights for 9 weeks now but I still have problems so am researching as much as I can about products with the Isothiazolinone. Many times all the ingredients are not on them so I will have to go online to see if I can find them. I am on my 2nd round of prednisone to stop the cycle and I cannot tell you how much better I look and feel but as you know, its not a long term medicine. I need to avoid all these allergens once I know where they are. This whole journey has really affected my everyday life as my business requires to be around people all the time and when my face is really bad, I have no self confidence. It really is horrible that we even have to worry about all the toxic products that are out there!
Thanks so much for your very informative information! My website is unrelated to any of this but you can at least see who I am:) I hope you are doing better, it gives me hope that I eventually will too.
My name is mel I’m 27 years old suffered from eczema all my life had patch test done turns out I’m allergic to 25, 2 bromo, 2 nitropropane, 1,3 idol, methylchloroisathiazoline and nickel. It’s all over my body and even in my hair line people look at me and point sometimes call me names with it’s really bad some days I have to use crutches as I have it on my feet. I’ve changed this containing what I’m allergic to but still itching especially at night we’re I wake and my sheets are civer3d in blood been scratching that bad have to have a bath early hours in morning. The hospital have just got back to me to start light treatment 3 times at week . It gets me down most days we’re I don’t go out.
Thank you for this helpful blog, Margot. I just got my allergy skin test results today and now have to play detective to find out which of the 6 substances (each listed with what seems like a hundred incomprehensible names) is causing the very, very, very itchy red rash on the back of both my hands. One of the substances I tested allergic to is CL+ME-Isothiazolinone so your blog is really informative. I hope you are doing well.
Good luck with eliminating the products Maryann. It can be a hard task especially that not all companies state all of the products or hide them under different names. What I have done was I stopped using anything except for 100% pure olive oil soap bar and food grade oil for moisturiser and slowly started adding one product at the time to see if I’m allergic to it or not. I have managed to successfully avoid outbreaks ever since, except for minor accidents when I touched some allergens outside of the house.
Today I have stumbled across a couple of blogs that mention MI, which I had not been aware of before (I had not known that it is a commonly-used preservative that causes problems for a significant minority of people, and has recently been subject to regulation in the EU etc.)
One of those blogs led me to your blogpost here, and when I saw your photos, I could not believe the similarity of your skin reactions to the skin reactions I had, for over a year, in the late 1990s, when I was in my mid-20s.
I have always been sensitive to various chemicals, plus have plant allergies, food allergies, etc., so I was already living pretty simply, eating plain food, using a plain skincare routine, and I could not figure out what was causing my eyes, neck and arms to look like that!
I was lucky to live in a major US city with a good healthcare system, and at the time I had a good health insurance plan, so I went to dermatologist after dermatologist, even some at major research hospitals, but none of them could help me. They offered me the same ideas and products that many others of us here have been offered, but none of their treatments helped me for long. The steroid creams thinned my skin a lot (which was already delicate and thin to begin with).
I stopped using most products – I didn’t use makeup, soaps, cleaning products, rubber gloves to wash my dishes with, etc. I was single and in my mid-20s, living in a new city, and for a year I didn’t have one date or make one friend, because people would be so put off by my appearance (it looked like I was carrying some contagious illness!) I also think that it prevented me from getting a job promotion, because it would have been to a public-facing role where appearances mattered.
The whole thing was so depressing (as well as physically uncomfortable).
Then, after having this problem for a full year —
and I have no idea why I didn’t try to stop using the following product sooner, it’s just that it didn’t seem to have any connection to my eyelids, face, neck, and arm skin, and no doctor ever mentioned it as being a possible cause of my skin difficulties —
one day I decided not to put nail polish on my toenails (I would only polish my toenails, not my fingernails) —
and that was it! My skin cleared up after a couple of days.
It had been caused by the toenail polish that entire time.
My toes with the polish on them never got anywhere near my eyelids or neck (nor really even did my toes get near my arm skin in the places on my arms that displayed the visible rash), so I don’t know why my body decided to show on the UPPER part of my body its negative reaction to the chemical that was only ever touching the tips of my toes.
I have since never used nail polish again (whether formaldehyde-free or not) — I don’t want to risk it.
Therefore, when I saw your pictures on this blogpost, I thought, “Wow, her skin looks EXACTLY the way that mine did!” and I scrolled down to see if you would mention nail polish as one of the possible causes of this skin reaction.
You didn’t specifically name it, but I noticed that at the bottom of this page you gave a link to another blog post you have written, which is about non-toxic nail varnish.
But I just wanted to highlight here, for anyone who is having these skin reactions and who does not seem to be using anything containing MI (methylisothiazolinone), DO LOOK INTO any contact you may have with nail polish (nail varnish)!
It may not even be nail polish that you personally are wearing, but perhaps someone you are physically close with/living with is wearing it.
As far as I understand it, the 1990s is way before MI (methylisothiazolinone) started to be put in consumer products, but I am not surprised at all to have learned today that people who already are sensitized to formaldehyde (which, it seems, that I am, based on my terrible reaction to the toenail polish in my mid-20s) can also have a bad reaction to MI.
I am sure that over the last few years, I have reacted to products that have MI in them. I haven’t known the exact reason that my skin reacted badly to them, but I just knew to put them on my mental “try not to come into contact with this product again” list. Included in that list is carpet shampoo, certain cleaning products, certain hand washes, certain hair shampoos, air fresheners, etc.
Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve constantly had perioral dermatitis. I have seen several dermatologists for it, but what they suggested to me didn’t work. I’ve managed to whittle down the products I use and the foods I eat, etc., to be the least likely to provoke the facial rash, and I stopped using all makeup 5 years ago. Now I don’t have outbreaks of the perioral dermatitis little red “pimples” anymore, but the scaliness, redness, dryness, etc. on that area of my face have never completely gone away, and it is depressing. It’s still there in a low-level way. If you feel my skin in that area of my face, it feels like sandpaper.
From the time I started to have the perioral dermatitis, until 2 years ago, I also contantly had cheilitis (lip inflammation, dryness, flaking, scaliness) — sometimes my lips would be swollen, deeply cracked, bleeding — they looked like they were badly chapped by the environment (from being in freezing winds or something), yet they had been totally protected and cared for. I went through everything that I could think of that I was using, eating, wearing, etc., and I read up about it for many hours online.
By trial and error, I worked out a few things that appeared to be contributing to my lip inflammation. The top ones (that I can remember at the moment) are:
– cinnamon and mint flavoring in chewing gum and in dental health products such as toothpaste and mouth rinse
– eating bell peppers (green, yellow, orange and red)
– anything pine-related (pine oil, pine-scented cleaning products, pinecone craft decorations, pine trees, live Christmas trees, pine wood furniture)
– other tree-related essential oils such as tea tree and eucalyptus (and all the products that have such oils in them, including body washes, body lotions, household cleaning products, scented candles, oil diffusers, air fresheners, etc.)
– certain products that my mother uses constantly in her house [but I don’t use in mine] such as aerosol furniture polish (of any brand or formulation), fabric softener for clothes washing (of any brand or scent), burning wax candles (of any brand or scent), spray-painting her craft projects in her garage, scented bubble bath when she is taking a bath … and many other things, such as when she applies nail polish on her toenails — even though I may be several rooms away from her, just the fact that the chemical odor is wafting through the air in the house for a while can make my lips start to crack and bleed.
Two years ago, as I mentioned, I stopped having constant lip inflammation/cheilitis, because I cracked down on my exposure to all those things (as much as humanly possible), and my mother agreed not to use some of those products (at least at the times that I am visiting her house — then she goes crazy with using them all when I’m not there, ha ha!)
Over the years I also had tried many, many lip products, ointments, medications, prescription and non-prescription, both from the US and from Europe, and nothing really seemed to help the lip inflammation/cheilitis, but then finally one day I tried one of the few things left on my list of untried products, which was plain lanolin (it is a fat from sheep wool), and it is THE BEST THING FOR MY LIPS that I have ever found! I am convinced that 50% of the reason that my lips these days are generally not cracked and bleeding any more is due to the lanolin, which I keep my lips covered with (just a tiny amount is enough) at all times, day and night. The best lanolin that I found is called Lansinoh and it comes in a purple tube (in the United States). The Lansinoh brand is marketed for women with babies, but their lanolin product is simply plain lanolin that can be used by anyone for any reason.
While my cheilitis is being controlled now and is normally not a problem for me these days (because I avoid all the things I know that provoke it, and constantly keep my lips covered in a slight covering of protective lanolin), the perioral dermatitis still has not entirely gone away.
Perioral dermatitis is the topic that I was actually searching about online today, when I happened to come across some blogs that mentioned MI (methylisothiazolinone), and I have been reading about this topic for the last few hours. In my house, I have looked at the ingredients lists of the simple array of products that I still use these days, and most of them do not have MI in them, but I have discovered that my “simple, gentle” hair shampoo and hair conditioner, and my “free and clear, all natural, hypoallergenic, unscented” laundry detergent DO have MI in them.
Because of my proven skin reaction to things that are even just floating in the air (for example, being near pine trees, being near my mother’s nail polish, being near most burning candles that are scented), I would not be surprised if my small exposure to the “rinse off” products that I am using (where the MI is not meant to stay on the skin, but is meant to go down the drain after being rinsed off with water), like my shampoo and laundry detergent, could be irritating my entire body just enough to make the perioral dermatitis on the facial skin around my nose and mouth continue to be inflamed.
Therefore, I am now going to try to find a shampoo/conditioner and laundry detergent without MI. I am not sure about how many are available in the United States, where I live, because even “natural” brands like Ecover here have MI in their products.
I did want to recommend a few items that my skin has done well with, and which do not seem to have MI in them.
Note: Tonight I have read the ingredients lists on these products that I have at home, and they do not appear to have MI (or similar) in their ingredients lists….
Of course, if you are thinking of buying any of these to try, please check all ingredients lists to make sure that the product hasn’t changed in the meantime (and products of the same name can have different ingredients in different countries)!
– La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser face wash
– La Roche-Posay Toleriane Fluide face moisturizer
– Paula’s Choice Earth-Sourced Perfectly Natural Cleansing Gel face wash (I rarely use this, but I keep it on hand in case I need a stronger face wash than the La Roche-Posay cleansing milk which does not have any foaming action)
– Daisy’s 2-in-1 Shampoo and Body Wash, unscented variety
– CeraVe Moisturing Lotion for normal to dry skin (the one with the blue label, and it’s not their lotion with niacinamide in it — I react badly to niacinamide) body lotion
– Crest Cavity Protection, Regular Paste toothpaste (their original toothpaste from many decades ago) [note that the slight amount of mint flavor that they put in this does not seem to irritate my lips very much, and I make sure to rinse my mouth well and wash my lips well after brushing my teeth]
– For a laundry fabric softener (and anti-fungal etc.), I put in 1/4th cup of cheap white vinegar in the washing machine’s rinse cycle (cheap white vinegar is available in a supermarket for about $1.50 per gallon, where I live)
Thank you for this wonderful blog post, photos, and information Margot — you have helped and will continue to help many people with it!
Good luck to us all, in figuring out what is causing our skin/bodies to be so irritated, and in finding a basic array of health/beauty/household products (and foods, etc.) that do not cause us any major problems.
thank you for writing this. everyone thinks i’m crazy and keeps saying stop rubbing your eye or drink water you’re being neurotic and doing it to yourself. Once i cleared my house and washed EVERYTHING in Nellies detergent, got dish soap with 4 ingredients, it’s so basic it doesn’t have a name, changed my facial cleanser, switch to a biolage shampoo and conditioner that’s MI free, changed my pets shampoo, switched cleaning products and stopped putting anything other than shampoo and conditioner in my hair i can finally SEE, I’m not itching, tired, constipated (yes constipated), irritated, foggy headed and covered in chemical burns. I found this 2 weeks after I discovered what was wrong but reading this is so helpful. thank you.
This blog is old, and things change.
I have all Baylis and Harding handwashes. None of them contain MI, MCI or Alpha-isomethyl Ionone.
I’m unhappy that MI & MCI are still in their shower gels.
Hello, please look into TSW Topical Steroid Withdrawal…your patch patterns, redness burning drying flaking all look like this may be signs of your body growing a dependency on the steroid creams (protopic is included in this…it is a whole other beast). Doctors and dermatologists do not acknowledge the existence of this condition but our community of sufferers and survivors is growing ..and globally. I wish you nothing but the best. I have been there…where I was gping insane thinking i was becoming allergic to everythinggggg… let me tell you, 3 years of withdrawal off of these creams and i can eat, shower, and live life fully again.