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Rash Linked To Mobile Phone Use

October 16, 2008

Doctors have attributed a strange rash on people’s ears or faces to spending too many hours on their mobile phone, the British Association of Dermatologists reported on Thursday.

The condition is now known as “mobile phone dermatitis,” and is caused by an allergic reaction to nickel, which is often found in the handset casing or buttons.

Nickel allergy is the most common contact allergy in the UK and is thought to affect 30 percent of the population. Women are particularly prone to “mobile phone dermatitis”, as they are more likely to have been previously sensitized to the metal following an allergic reaction to nickel-coated jewelry, the experts say.

Analysis of several published studies that found reports of patients with unexplained rashes on their face and ear revealed that the reaction was caused by nickel in the mobile phone handsets.

Additionally, a US study published earlier this year tested 22 handsets from popular brands for nickel, and found it in 10 of them.

“Nearly half of the phones we spot tested contained some free nickel,” said Dr Lionel Bercovitch, of Brown University, Rhode Island, who was one of the study authors.

“The menu buttons, decorative logos on the headsets and the metallic frames around the liquid crystal display (LCD) screens were the most common sites.”

“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.”

BAD is advising anyone who develops a rash on their face which might be attributable to prolonged mobile phone use to seek advice from their doctor.

“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,” the group said in a statement.

“In theory it could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons.”

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