Unexplained rashes? Your iPad can be prime suspect for nickel allergy

By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times | July 14, 7:41 AM

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Boy with iPad

An 11-year old boy's unexplained body rashes that do not respond to standard treatment were traced to his frequent use of a first generation iPad.



(Photo : Marcus Kwan)

The modern conveniences and enjoyment brought about by electronic gadgets bring with them some health problems. Using electronic gadgets, for instance, can cause skin problems. A case report published in the journal Pediatrics on July 14 shows that iPads may also pose potential problems to individuals with allergic contact dermatitis particularly those who are allergic to nickel.

For the report "iPad-Increasing Nickel Exposure in Children," Sharon Jacob and Shehla Admani, from the University of California in San Diego, described the case of an 11 year old boy with atopic dermatitis who was suffering from a different type of body rash for more than six months and whose condition did not respond to treatment using standard ointment.

The boy was given a skin patch test and was found positive of nickel allergy, a condition that becomes more prevalent or increasingly recognized. A decade ago, only 17 percent of children who got tested for allergies were found to have nickel allergies. The incidence has now jumped to 25 percent.

It was also found during a counseling session that the boy's family has a first generation iPad that they bought in 2010 and that the patient had been using the device more frequently over the last six months. When the doctors tested the tablet, they found that the tablet's outside coating contains nickel with dimethylglyoxime.

Nickel allergies have been linked with exposure to different type of electronic devices including cellphones and laptops but this appears to be the first time that Apple's popular tablet has been linked with nickel sensitization in children. It isn't yet clear though if all iPad models and Apple devices have nickel.

Jacob and Admani reported that after the boy covered his iPad, avoided products with nickel and reduced nickel in his diet, his condition significantly improved and has been on remission for five months. In light of the boy's case, they also said that doctors should consider electronic devices as a possible cause of skin rashes.

"With the increasing prevalence of nickel allergy in the pediatric population, it is important for clinicians to continue to consider metallic appearing electronics and personal effects as potential sources of nickel exposure," Jacob and Admani wrote [pdf].

Besides exposure to nickel, too much use of electronic gadgets such as smartphones, computers and tablets is also associated with insomnia, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and De Quervain syndrome, a condition characterized by pain in the tendons on the thumb side of the wrist.

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