Unexplained rash? Doctors are now telling patients to check their electronic devices, particularly their iPads. The popular computer tables may contain nickel- one of the most common allergy-inducing metals.
Although nickel rashes are not life-threatening, they can be very uncomfortable and may require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if the skin becomes infected, according to Dr. Sharon Jacob. Jacob is a dermatologist at Rady Children’s hospital, where an 11-year-old patient came in with an itchy rash.
According to CBCnews, the young patient had a common skin condition that causes scaly patches, but he developed a different rash all over his body that didn’t respond to usual ointment. After skin testing, the San Diego Hospital showed he had a nickel allergy, and doctors traced it to an iPad his family had bought in 2010.
“He used the iPad daily,” Jacob reports.
Nickel was found in the iPad’s outside coating. This same coating can be found in a variety of personal electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones, as well as common products, such as jewelry, eyeglass frames and zippers.
Jacob said evidence suggests nickel allergies are becoming more common, or increasingly recognized. She 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.
She said doctors need to consider electronic devices as potential sources when patients seek treatment for skin rashes.
The boy’s rash hasn’t returned since he put the iPad in a protective case.