Cell phones can cause skin rash, British experts say

Are your cheeks and ears itchy or way too red and you’re wondering why? It might just be because of your old buddy and confidant, the cell phone.

BBC has unveiled today that, according to the British Association of Dermatologists, mobile phone users who talk too much on their handsets are in danger of developing skin rashes.

The reason for this is nickel, the silvery-white metal that phone makers sometimes use into the devices’ keypads and cases.

When several reports of unexplained rashes appeared, the link to cell phones was made and researchers have discovered that, indeed, the nickel present into the handsets had caused the mysterious allergies.  


(Nokia E71, pictured here only because it has a metallic look)

About 30% of UK’s population is said to be allergic to nickel, so this seems to be quite a big problem in Great Britain.

Women are more likely to develop the “mobile phone dermatitis”, since they might have already been sensitized to nickel after wearing jewelry coated with said metal.

In mobile phone dermatitis, the rash would typically occur on the cheek or ear, depending on where the metal part of the phone comes into contact with the skin. In theory it could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons, said Dr.Graham Lowe from the British Association of Dermatologists.

An earlier study, made in the US by researchers from Brown University, Rhode Island, unveiled that 10 out of 22 popular mobile phones tested contained nickel.

Given the widespread use of cell phones, the presence of metal in the exterior casing of these phones and the high prevalence of nickel sensitization in the population, it is not surprising that cell phones can cause allergic contact dermatitis, said Dr. Lionel Bercovitch from Brown University.

So, next time you see a fancy handset with a nice, polished look, it might have nickel somewhere in it. You can consider opting for a phone made out of plastic instead. Or just buy a protective case or a wireless headset, that way you won’t have to make direct contact with the nickel-friendly device.

Author: Ilinca Nita

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