Allergies are increasingly common across the United States, particularly when it comes to food. 3.3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts alone, and experts estimate that four percent of U.S. citizens are allergic to something. Curiously, doctors now believe that some people are also allergic to their mobile phones. Find out how it's possible to suffer an allergic reaction to your mobile phone, and learn more about the precautions you may need to take.
The results of recent research
Scientific studies now show that an increasing number of people are allergic to one or more of the metals that manufacturers use to make cellular devices.
Researchers in Europe and the United States now believe that the metal in some mobile phones causes an allergic reaction called allergic contact dermatitis (or ACD.) Researchers investigated a range of handsets from different manufacturers to understand more about the levels of nickel and cobalt used in the devices, as these metals most commonly cause the problem.
Symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis
Many substances can cause allergic contact dermatitis. These include:
- Fabrics and clothing
- Rubber or latex
- Nail polish
Other substances only cause an allergic reaction when you then expose your skin to sunlight. For example, some people suffer ACD when they use shaving lotions and then go out in bright sunlight.
The symptoms of ACD range from mild to severe. These allergic reactions often occur quite suddenly. Many people experience severe itching and you may see a red, patchy rash. Red bumps may appear that turn into moist blisters. Symptoms generally appear on the hands, face, head and neck.
In many cases, a doctor will simply recommend that you stop using your mobile phone to allow the symptoms to subside. Emollients and moisturizers can help repair your skin. An allergy doctor may also prescribe topical corticosteroids, or tacrolimus ointment to help your skin heal. If the reaction is very severe, you may need corticosteroid pills or a shot.
In most cases, the symptoms of ACD will subside after two or three weeks, unless you keep using the mobile phone.
Preventing mobile phone exposure
Not all manufacturers use these metals in mobile phone handsets. According to the study, some manufacturers' handsets contained no nickel or cobalt in them at all. That aside, some brands used these metals in 75 percent of their handsets available to customers.
Choosing a device that doesn't contain nickel or cobalt can help you avoid the issue. You should also carefully select headsets and other accessories for your phone, as research shows they may also contain one or more of these metals.
Alternatively, you may need to use accessories that prevent contact with the phone. For example, you can buy plastic cases that will stop your skin touching the metallic parts of the phone. Wireless, metal-free handsets can also allow you to take and make calls without placing the phone against your face, and if you need to take a longer call, it's generally better to use the device on a hands-free mode.
Parents should pay particular attention to children, who are more likely to use their mobile phones for long periods. Half the cases that need medical treatment occur in children under the age of 18, who often experience the symptoms around their belly button. In these cases, it is seldom immediately obvious that the mobile phone is causing the problem.
Allergic contact dermatitis is an increasingly common condition that affects mobile phone users in the United States. If you or a loved one shows the symptoms of ACD, talk to an allergy doctor for more advice.