Chemicals used in a broad range of skincare products to keep bacteria at bay are being blamed for a huge increase in skin allergies and eczema. Judy Johnson reports

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We wrote about this breaking news story back in July, and since the discovery multiple brands have announced their decision to remove the preservative from their products. Brands taking action include Johnson & Johnson and Molton Brown while Nivea, Clarins and L'Oreal are being urged by skin experts to change their formulations. An investigation into the chemical will be aired tonight on BBC's Watchdog programme.

A common preservative used in a huge range of skincare and cosmetic products is being blamed by doctors for a skin allergy 'epidemic'.

Methylisothiazolinone, also known as MI, has been used in beauty products since 2005 to help extend their shelf life and prevent the growth of bacteria, but dermatologists are claiming that the increased concentration of the chemical in everyday products is triggering the most widespread outbreak of eczema, dermatitis and skin allergies they've ever seen.

The chemical was found to be safe for use in toxicity tests but has increasingly been used since EU regulations allowed it and is now in many sun creams, soaps, moisturisers and shampoos. It's even in the likes of wet wipes, and other highlighted products include Piz Buin's 1 Day Long sunscreen and Nivea's Daily Essentials face wipes. It's now become so common that doctors fear it is the culprit behind their patients' ever increasing rashes and skin allergies.

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Dr John McFadden, a consultant dermatologist at St Thomas' hospital in London told the Mail on Sunday, "This is one of the worst outbreaks of allergy to cosmetic products I have ever seen. There hasn't been anything on this scale before. We just don't know when it will peak."

A whopping 10 per cent of patients with skin conditions are testing positive for an allergy to MI this year according to St John's Institute of Dermatology in London and Nottingham University Hospitals and dermatologists are calling for brands to put a stop to it.

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Dr John English, a dermatologist at Nottingham University Hospitals is one of them. "This is an epidemic and urgent, immediate action is needed. Every day we are seeing patients who are allergic to this chemical."