Potential Allergens in Disposable Diaper Wipes, Topical Diaper Preparations, and Disposable Diapers: Under-recognized Etiology of Pediatric Perineal Dermatitis

Dermatitis. May-Jun 2016;27(3):110-8. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000177.


Background: Allergic contact dermatitis in young children may be an under-recognized cause of perineal dermatitis. The diapered infant skin is uniquely susceptible to allergic contact dermatitis because of more permeable neonatal skin, a moist environment, frequent contact with irritants and resultant skin barrier breakdown, and exposure to topical products such as diaper wipes, diaper preparations, and disposable diapers. To our knowledge, potential allergens in these products have not been thoroughly catalogued or studied.

Objective: We explore and review potential allergenic ingredients in diaper wipes, topical diaper preparations, and disposable diapers.

Method: We analyzed 63 diaper wipes, 41 topical diaper preparations, and the 3 top selling diaper brands available from two of the largest retailers in the United States. Each potential allergen is discussed, and epidemiologic studies of rates of sensitization to potential allergens in children are also reported.

Conclusions: Botanical extracts, including members of the Compositae family, were the most commonly represented potential allergen in both diaper wipes and topical preparations. Other potential allergens identified with high frequency include α-tocopherol, fragrances, propylene glycol, parabens, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, and lanolin. Frequent culprits such as formaldehyde releasers and methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone were not prevalent in our analyzed products.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Asteraceae / adverse effects
  • Carbamates / adverse effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Diapers, Infant / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lanolin / adverse effects
  • Ointments / adverse effects
  • Ointments / chemistry
  • Parabens / adverse effects
  • Perfume / adverse effects
  • Perineum*
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Propylene Glycol / adverse effects
  • Skin Cream / adverse effects
  • Skin Cream / chemistry
  • alpha-Tocopherol / adverse effects


  • Allergens
  • Carbamates
  • Ointments
  • Parabens
  • Perfume
  • Plant Extracts
  • 3-iodo-2-propynylbutylcarbamate
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Lanolin
  • alpha-Tocopherol