Wet Wipes May Trigger Food Allergies in Infants
A new study may have determined a potential cause of food allergies in children. According to researchers, wet wipes may increase the risk of allergic reactions in babies.
How Do Wet Wipes Affect the Skin?
Wet wipes can increase the skin’s sensitivity to unusual chemicals by affecting the skin’s natural protective barrier. If the protective barrier of the skin is damaged, contact with certain chemicals can cause an allergic reaction – the immune system’s overreaction to normally harmless substances. The soap in the wet wipes can remove the natural oils from the skin, making it more susceptible to absorbing allergenic chemicals.
According to the authors of the study, this can be a recipe for inducing a food allergy.
These findings may explain the development of food allergies in kids, and a nearly 20% increase in food allergies in the United States and similar countries over the past 20 years.
The risk is higher among children who are genetically prone to developing food allergies and other allergies related to eczema. Statistics shows that eczema is present in around 30 percent of children with allergies.
Eczema is a result of genetic mutations that damage the skin proteins creating the protective barrier. These mutations put a person at risk of developing other allergies, including food allergies.
However, a study that involved mice with eczema mutations showed that exposure to food allergens like peanuts was not enough to result in a food allergy.
How Can Wet Wipes Cause Allergies?
The hypothesis about the link between infant wipes and allergies was based on the studies where a soap was used to break down the barrier and deliver medications through the skin.
The research team involved mice with the above-mentioned mutations and applied sodium lauryl sulphate to their skin. This chemical is often found in wet wipes. Then the mice were exposed to common food allergens and other allergy triggers.
During a two-week period, the mice experienced three to four skin exposures and were given foods like peanut or egg. As a result, the animals developed skin rash and systemic reactions, including severe reaction like anaphylaxis.
The experts say that the effect from wet wipes can break down the skin barrier in a similar way, which may cause a mild rash or severe eczema. Therefore, they recommend the traditional way of washing babies.
Remember to wash your own hands when handling your baby to reduce the risk of exposure to allergens. Avoid using wet wipes leaving soap on the skin. Make sure to rinse off any soap left on the skin.