As more and more people rely on their mobile phones, allergists are seeing a rise in face rashes triggered by the nickel and cobalt in the phones. In a new study, researchers tested new and used mobile devices to offer up solutions to the problem.
For those allergic to metals, symptoms range from dry-itchy patches on the face or ears to redness, blistering, lesions, and sometimes oozing.
According to the study, nearly one-third of BlackBerry phones tested contained nickel, and roughly 90 percent of flip phones contained nickel, with more than half of flip phones containing cobalt. However, none of the iPhones or Androids studied tested positive for either metal, says researcher Dr. Luz Fonacier, of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., and State University of New York Stony Brook. BlackBerry devices tested that didn't contain nickel or cobalt included the BlackBerry Torch and BlackBerry Curve.
"In those phones that looked like the keypad had a lot of wear and tear, they were more likely to test positive for nickel," she told WebMD. "In the BlackBerries, the nickel was found mostly on the keypads."
Solution to avoiding problems? If you love your BlackBerry, use a plastic cover on your mobile or a wireless earpiece. Alternatively, rely on speaker phone or switch to a phone that does not contain metal on the surfaces that contact the skin.
However, if you have severe allergies, considering getting a new device. "Patients with nickel and cobalt allergies should consider using iPhones or Droids to reduce the chance of having an allergic reaction," she added in a press release. "Blackberry users with known allergies should avoid prolonged conversations, text messaging and handling their phones if they begin noticing symptoms."
Fonacier will present her findings Monday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology annual meeting in Anaheim, California.