Are You Allergic To Your Cellphone?
If you constantly use your cellphone and you’ve developed a mysterious rash on your face or ears, it’s a good bet you’re allergic to nickel, a metal commonly found in cellphones. It can even affect fingertips of users who constantly text non-stop on buttons that contain nickel. In severe cases, blisters and itchy sores can appear. Even Apple’s iPads are being linked to these skin rashes. Hopefully, these individuals’ health insurance covered their treatment.
A report in the Journal of Pediatrics has identified increases in allergic contact dermatitis cases in kids. One of the most common sources is contact with nickel, which is also found in laptop computers
The Pediatrics report details the case of an 11-year-old boy treated for allergic contact dermatitis, a red, itchy rash. Although it’s not contagious or life-threatening, it can be very uncomfortable. The doctors discovered that the boy had been using a first-generation iPad, which tested positive for nickel. The solution – cover the iPad’s metal surfaces with a form-fitting case.
Who is affected by nickel allergy?
• Contact allergic dermatitis to nickel may develop at any age
• Once this nickel allergy has developed, it persists for many years, often life-long.
• Nickel allergy is more common in women, probably because they are more likely to have piercings than men
• Nickel allergy affects an estimated 17% of women and 3% of men
• Some people develop dermatitis from even brief contact with nickel-containing items, while others break out only after many years of skin contact with nickel.
• Women typically develop cellphone rash more often because they are more likely to have been sensitized to nickel after ear piercing, or had an allergic reaction to nickel-containing jewelry.
• If you get rashes from costume jewelry or you’re probably nickel-sensitive.
What is the treatment for nickel allergy? You should consult your doctor. These are treatments he may prescribe:
• Compresses – Dry up blisters with diluted vinegar compresses. Do not use these if the skin is dry.
• Topical steroids – Apply topical steroid to the dermatitis as directed by your doctor.
• Antibiotics – May be necessary for secondary infection of nickel dermatitis (impetigo).
• Emollients – Apply soothing emollient creams frequently to relieve itch and dry skin.
Preventative things you can do
• Buy a phone cover
• Use a hands-free device
• Use the speaker phone
• Switch to a phone that doesn’t contain nickel on surfaces that touch your skin
• Buy a nickel spot-test kit online or from a pharmacist before you buy a new phone
o Put a drop of the liquid (dimethylglyoxime) on a cotton swab and dab the swab on those parts of the phone where nickel is typically found (menu buttons, decorative logos on the headsets and the metal frames around the liquid crystal display (LCD) screens)
o If the applicator turns pink, the phone contains nickel.
Since 1994, European countries have regulated nickel release from consumer products that come into continued contact with skin. According to studies, this has reduced the frequency of nickel sensitivity in Germany and Denmark. Maybe it’s time the U.S. does the same. In the meantime, make sure your health insurance is up to date.
Have you experienced an allergic reaction to your cellphone? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.