Skin Rash May be From Your iPad or Other Electronic Device with Nickel

Nickel Allergy

If you’ve been plagued with a skin rash that won’t go away, it might be from your iPad or another electronic device.

An 11-year-old boy in San Diego developed a nasty skin allergy and doctors traced it to the nickel in his family’s iPad. They quickly found a solution after trying many allergy creams; they covered the iPad’s metal surfaces with a form-fitting case.

A report published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics suggests some cases of allergic contact dermatitis in children are being caused specifically by nickel exposure coming from Apple’s iPads.

The boy’s iPad tested positive for nickel, the dermatologists said. The boy’s dermatitis improved significantly after he started using a tablet case and began avoiding known sources of nickel in general, the study’s authors reported.

The 11-year-old boy was treated at a San Diego hospital for an itchy rash on his body that was unexplained, according to the Pediatrics report. In his case, tests by dermatologists showed that he was allergic to nickel and that the emergence of the rash coincided with his parents’ purchase of an iPad in 2010.

Evidence suggests nickel allergies are becoming more common, or increasingly recognized.

The Pediatrics report’s co-author, dermatologist Sharon Jacob from UC San Diego, cited national data showing that about 25 percent of children who get skin tests for allergies have nickel allergies, versus about 17 percent a decade ago.

Nickel rashes aren’t life-threatening, but they can be very uncomfortable. They may require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if skin eruptions become infected, Sharon Jacob, a dermatologist at Rady Children’s Hospital, where the boy was treated, told the Associated Press.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a nickel allergy may include:

  • Rash or bumps on the skin
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Redness or changes in skin color
  • Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn
  • Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases

It’s unclear if all iPads contain nickel, or just the first generation, such as the San Diego boy’s. The researchers said other common sources of nickel exposure for children included ear piercings, clothing fasteners, dental work – which people come into contact with constantly – laptops, cell phones and toys.

Apple defended the safety of its products.

“We have found that allergies like the one reported in this case are extremely rare,” the company said in a statement. “Apple products are made from the highest quality materials and meet the same strict standards set for jewelry by both the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission and their counterparts in Europe. We rigorously test our products to make sure they are safe for all our customers,” it said.

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