Could your cell phone be making you sick? New research from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology finds that endlessly chatting on your cell phone could leave you with an allergic reaction to nickel.
“Increased use of cell phones with unlimited usage plans has led to more prolonged exposure to the nickel in phones,” said allergist Luz Fonacier, MD, ACAAI Fellow. “Patients come in with dry, itchy patches on their cheeks, jaw lines and ears and have no idea what is causing their allergic reaction.”
Nickel allergies are common--affecting up to 17 percent of women and three percent of men. And since products containing nickel are everywhere these days (think keys, coins, paperclips, jewelry, watches, eyeglass frames) that can pose a problem to sufferers. And while a brief encounter with a coin might not cause much harm, talking on your cell phone for hours on end could give you the prolonged exposure that increases your risk.
Symptoms can range from redness, swelling, itching eczema, blistering, skin lessions and yes, sometimes oozing and scarring.
“Allergists are seeing increasing numbers of nickel allergy among patients,” said Dr. Fonacier. “Some researchers suggest that there should be more nickel regulation in the U.S. like there is in some European countries.”
So what do you do, short of hanging up the phone? If you are impacted, experts recommend avoiding direct skin contact by using a plastic film cover over your phone or investing in a wireless ear piece. Or, of course, you can always change your phone for one with a metal free surface.