Home | Stories | Reviews | TreoCast | Treo Store | Accessories | Software | Discussion at webOS Nation | Mobile | About | Search
treocentral.com >> Stories >> Commentary
Cell Phones Causing Allergy Flare-ups

Mon Oct 27, 2008 - 9:57 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


This one will really make your skin crawl, that is, if it doesn’t already itch. There’s a little known fact about cell phones. The better models contain nickel, a shiny metal that makes them look snazzy. Nickel is everywhere, too, including alloyed with other metals in, for example, stainless steel cookware.

So, what’s the big deal about a little nickel? Allergies. Lots of people are allergic the merest, briefest touch of the stuff. So, nickel allergy caused, or at least aggravated, by cell phone use has caught the attention of dermatologists. Some mobile phones are causing so much allergic skin disorder that the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) (No, I’m not making this up!) has been asking doctors to watch for symptoms in their patients.

The reaction, “contact dermatitis” in dermatologist-speak, happens when skin touches a phone's nickel-plated casing or buttons, and some patients have developed rashes on their faces from mobile phone use. So says BAD, and that ain’t good.

BAD’s Dr Graham Lowe:

"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.”

Scary, isn’t it? The allergy manifests as a red rash, often accented with blisters. It itches, too. Baaaaaaaad. Once it starts, it’s way hard to get rid of, and can even stick around for life, with or without continued exposure. The worldwide Melissa Foundation has this to say:

Nickel triggers more hypersensitive reactions than any other metal; up to 15 percent of the population suffers from some form of nickel allergy, mostly women. Nickel is exceptionally common: in jewelry, buttons and in coins (including the Euro). It may be found in dental restorations, prostheses (hip, knee, cochlear and cardiac implants), color pigments, cosmetics, stainless steel cutlery and pots. Even hard cleaning of kitchenware has been shown to release nickel in washing-up water.

In addition, many foods contain nickel, including bananas, cocoa, oatmeal, green vegetables, and nuts. There are low-nickel diets, but you don’t want to know about them. For one thing, they omit that all-important food group chocolate, since chocolate is particularly rich in nickel (even if you get it for pennies). Fortunately, the body absorbs only a few percent of the nickel you ingest and consigns the rest to the sewer. Still, if you’re sensitive to it, out goes the double-chocolate fudge cake. And the cell phone.

For nickel allergy to rear its ugly head, you have to have contact with nickel-bearing products and be sensitive to it. If you get a rash from what dermatologists call “cheap jewelry” (that’s the best kind, in my book), then you might be experiencing nickel rash. Start looking for a support group, as well as a good dermatologist. The only consolation I can offer is that at least you’re in the forefront of allergy fashion. The American Contact Dermatitis Society named nickel the Allergen of the Year for 2008.

You’ll find plenty more information and some pictures at this link, and in the online Dermatologic Disease Database. Meanwhile, here’s the big question. Do our Centros and Treos contain enough nickel to cause this problem? In a quick look around Palm’s support forums, I found only references to replacement nickel-plated screws and Ni-Cad (Nickel Cadmium) batteries. Looking at my Centro, however, I hear the dermatologist harpies talking about “cheap jewelry” and there is that shiny middle panel that hugs my face while I talk on the phone. The case being plastic, it looks like the Centro nickel exposure – if there is even any at all – is minimal.

My Treos are another story altogether – a whole front panel of shiny metal that could contain nickel. Or not. But Treos aren’t cheap, so maybe not. Besides, all that glitters is not necessarily nickel. I’m one of those people for whom the power of suggestion in medical matters is all powerful, but since I don’t have any symptoms of the allergy, I won’t give up talking on the cell phone just yet.

Treo accessory store
> Print this page
> Digg!


Copyright 1999-2016 TreoCentral. All rights reserved : Terms of Use : Privacy Policy

TREO and TreoCentral are trademarks or registered trademarks of palm, Inc. in the United States and other countries;
the TreoCentral mark and domain name are used under license from palm, Inc.
The views expressed on this website are solely those of the proprietor, or
contributors to the site, and do not necessarily reflect the views of palm, Inc.
Read Merciful by Casey Adolfsson