Parents are advised to not use wet wipes on their children’s eczema. It makes you wonder why. Wipes should be the ideal tool to gently manage patches of eczema, so there must be something really serious to induce this degree of caution.

Sadly there is – the number and nature of the chemicals in most of the wipes available from major retailers. The advice is based on how many children have their eczema worsened by commonly available wipes. In 2007 I did an analysis of the ingredients in all the baby wipes I could find in British retailers. I selected baby wipes in the belief that they would be mild and gentle. Sadly, I was mistaken. The cautionary advice was justified and the wipes should not be used on eczema. In my view, some of the baby wipes should not be used on any babies!

Please stay with me while I mention some of the salient facts. Baby wipes in Europe are governed by the Cosmetics Directive which says manufacturers can put whatever they want in a cosmetic product. There is the INCI list to provide useful guidance but if people want to put other chemicals in they may. Of the 34 available baby wipes I examined, two thirds contained chemicals NOT on the favoured INCI list. That in itself is not illegal – it’s simply interesting when most mothers have faith in those brands.

One major British brand had three versions of baby wipes. Only one of them contained just INCI ingredients which proved they could easily work within the guidance when they wanted. Ironically, the wipe they named ‘sensitive skin’ contained chemicals not on the INCI list. Why would they do that? Why venture outside the guidance when they’ve shown you can work within it?

This is more than an academic theme. Eczema advisers are forced to issue suggestions that parents do not use these wipes. That provides a strong commercial incentive to provide wipes which children like.

NewGenn entered the childhood eczema field when parents told us the eczema disappeared when they used our products, including our wipes. Our wipes were created for use on premature babies so they are very safe and gentle. They also have strong antimicrobial properties, leave the skin feeling soft, are shredable and can be flushed down toilets. Ironically we have the best baby wipe on the market but we have not marketed it as such. The parents were simply pleased to have found a wipe their children liked and the fact that the eczema ended at the same time was a pleasing bonus.

This proves it’s perfectly possible to make a wet wipe that’s suitable for use on eczema using just INCI ingredients. The question is why the major brands had chosen to not do it?


Dr Harley Farmer PhD BVSc(hons) BVBiol(path) MRCVS, CEO NewGenn

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