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Allergy Awareness Week highlights problems faced by consumers who react to cosmetic and other products

People with allergies want to protect themselves from cosmetic products that can trigger dangerous reactions

Posted on 01 May 2014

It is Allergy Awareness Week and a reminder that for millions of people allergies to pollen, dust and everyday consumer products can cause serious health reactions.

Cosmetic claims lawyer Michelle Victor is calling on the cosmetics industry to remove methylisothiazolinone (MI, or MIT) from its products as it is estimated that this widely used substance causes serious contact dermatitis in many people.

MI is used in products including washing powder, shampoo, cleaning products and paint and contact with it can trigger severe reactions in some people.

Symptoms can include severe dermatitis, swollen skin and breathing problems.

Recent media reports have highlighted cases such as Gabrielle Butler whose eyelids swelled up so much that she could hardly see, and suffered from raw and painful skin (Metro 28.4.14).  She was finally diagnosed with have an allergy to MI only after being prescribed unnecessary steroid creams.

Healthcare professions have drawn attention to the rise in the number of cases of allergic skin reactions since the introduction of methylisothiazolinone. 

A study in the British Medical Journal in 2012 noted that allergic contact dermatitis can be caused when a person uses, for example, a cosmetic product that contains a chemical such as methylisothiazolinone. 

The study goes on to note an ‘alarming increase’ in the number of cases of allergic skin reactions following airborne exposure to methylisothiazolinone.

In December 2013 Cosmetic Europe recommended a total ban on the use of methylisothiazolinone in all products designed to be left of the skin but MI is still routinely added to many household products.

Product liability lawyer and Leigh Day partner Michelle Victor would like to see MI removed from all consumer products.  Michelle is currently acting for a woman who believes her serious facial injuries were the result of using an anti-wrinkle cream that contained the compound.  The woman had to take a six-moth course of steroids following her injuries.

More cosmetic manufacturers have stopped using MI and Michelle would like to see more of them following this example.

She said:

“Consumers have the right to expect that the products they use are safe and effective.  If manufacturers were to take steps to stop using methylisothiazolinone evidence seems to suggest that the number of people suffering severe allergic reactions would drop significantly.”

If you think you have suffered an injury or have been left with health problems after being exposed to methylisothiazolinone you may be able to bring a compensation claim.

To speak to one of our cosmetic product claims team please phone Michelle Victor on 020 7650 1141 or fill in our enquiry form and someone will get back to you shortly.