Prolonged use of cell phones may trigger skin allergies

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - The next time you chat endlessly on your cell phone, better be careful, as it can lead to an allergic reaction, say allergists.

They also said that from cosmetics to jewellery, body piercing to tattoos, allergies could lurk in unlikely places.

“Increased use of cell phones with unlimited usage plans has led to more prolonged exposure to the nickel in phones,” said Luz Fonacier, 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,” said Fonacier.

Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens, and affects up to 17 percent of women and 3 percent of men. Contact with objects containing nickel, such as keys, coins and paper clips are generally brief, so the nickel allergy may not occur on the area of contact.

However, even in these brief encounters, nickel can be transferred from fingers to the face and cause eyelid irritation. The risk is increased by frequent, prolonged exposure to nickel-containing objects, such as cell phones, jewellery, watches, and eyeglass frames.

Avoidance of direct skin contact is the best solution. For cell phones, try using a plastic film cover, a wireless ear piece, or switching to a phone that does not contain metal on surfaces that contact the skin, suggested Fonacier.

Body Piercing and Tattoos

You can also have an allergic reaction to your body art (piercing and tattoos). Twenty-four percent of people 18 to 50 years old have tattoos and 14 percent have body piercing.

“Allergic reactions from tattoos come mainly from the pigments used to color the dye. The issue with body piercing goes back to the increasing prevalence of nickel allergies. Some researchers suggest we delay introduction of ear piercing until children are older than 10 years,” he said.


“It’s well known that our everyday cosmetic products contain many substances that cause allergies. The average person uses 12 personal products a day. Those 12 products may contain up to 168 chemicals, many of which can be an irritant or a substance that causes an allergic reaction,” he said.

The findings were discussed at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Phoenix. (ANI)

Filed under: Health

will not be displayed