Wednesday, 21 May 2014

My Skin Allergy: Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)

I was apprehensive about writing this post but I felt it was something I needed to address with the possibility of helping others who have encountered the same issue. I myself struggled to find in depth personal accounts from people with this allergy and so I thought I'd share my own story. Although this was a self-diagnosis, I did a great deal of research prior and have notified my doctor.

Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) are chemicals found in cosmetics; toiletries, household solvents and paint, acting as preservative agents. In recent years concerns have risen over the impact both MI and MCI have on human skin and last year fuelled one of the biggest stories in skincare health. Warnings had been made of an increase of this new contact allergy and there has been a significant climb in the number of reported reactions worldwide. Although companies have been using these chemicals for years it seems that they have begun to use higher concentrations of the two which would explain the sudden epidemic of people contracting the allergy.

Over a month ago, I noticed the skin around my eye area and behind my ears had become really dry and flaky which is unusual considering I have oily skin. At the time I didn't give it much thought and figured it was just a dry spell for my skin until my eyelids and earlobes began to become incredibly sore and red. I then realised this must be a reaction to something I was using on a regular basis and after trial and error I figured out that it was the fault of my facial wipes which I use to remove eye make up and clean behind my ears. This was my first time using these particular wipes so I just assumed that my skin hadn't taken well to them and I needed to avoid them entirely. My skin began to clear a few days after the initial reaction but it wasn't long until the next. Despite using a different brand of facial wipes, my eyes were still irritated and had even began to swell. Every morning I would wake up with incredibly puffy, sore eyelids and the swelling was so intense that it looked like I had been in a fist fight. The skin under my eyes and around my lips was so red it could be mistaken for sunburn and it was so dry that it began to crack which caused a lot of discomfort. I couldn't believe that the reaction was getting worse despite my best efforts to avoid what I thought was to blame. It started to become clear that it wasn't down to the brands I was using, it must be a specific ingredient.

(Above) Day 2-3 into the reaction, sore and inflamed skin. 

I began to narrow down the products that I had been using that could possibly be the catalyst behind these reactions, comparing their ingredients to try and solve which one was upsetting my skin. I was becoming so frustrated and it even brought me to tears at one point because my skin had become extremely painful and inflamed. It was a never ending mystery, why was my skin reacting this way? Why can't I figure out the cause? How can I go about my day with my skin this way?

For four days or so I literally avoided using anything on my face to allow my skin to heal and eventually I introduced products back into my routine one by one to see if they would trigger a reaction. But of course I didn't want to go through another cycle of swollen eyes and burning skin so I researched online for ingredients in cosmetics that typically cause allergic reactions and instantly I was presented with stories and reports on Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI). BINGO! I read through a number of reports discussing the effects MI and MCI have on the skin and the alarming rate of the rise in reactions - the exact same reactions I had been going through! I also came across a Facebook group specifically created for people suffering with this allergy and I was shocked to see how so many others have reacted terribly to these preservatives. 

I was confident that I had finally found an answer and I immediately started reading the ingredients of all my daily used products and it was written clear in black and white, Methylisothiazolinone. I was quite taken back to find it was all over the house from the washing up liquid to the shower gel. My shampoo's, body creams and laundry detergent all consisted of this awful chemical, it is no wonder why my reaction has been so persistent. 

Since my discovery I have completely rid of all my cosmetics and toiletries that contain MI and MCI. I have also changed my laundry detergent and I always make sure to wear rubber gloves when washing the dishes. As a result my skin has completely healed and I have managed to avoid further reactions although I am quite anxious of how sensitive my skin has become. Having this allergy has made it rather difficult to do everyday things with a clear mind. For example, I will now have to bring my own toiletries when staying over at my boyfriends house, it was shocking to see that every single shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in his bathroom were now all off bounds for my personal use. Also, I am now rather limited to what products I can test and review for my blog which is why I haven't been able to write as much as I have wanted to over the past few weeks. I have visited my doctor and even she had recently become aware of this allergy and wasn't at all surprised to hear of my experience, she recommended that I visit a dermatologist but unfortunately there are no appointments for the next 2 months.

Products that triggered my reaction:

Soap & Glory Fab Pore Facial Wipes
Soap & Glory Pulp Friction
Nivea Visage Pure & Natural Wipes
L'Oreal Shampoo's and Conditioner's
Tresemmme Shampoo's and Conditioner's

Useful information:

Watchdog report - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mg74/features/mi-update
Facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Allergy-to-Isothiazolinone-Methylisothiazolinone-and-Chloroisothiazolinone/307128722674171


Tamara x