For all their usefulness, tablets and other mobile devices get a lot of flak for how they cause people to disengage from the real world. Now, pundits might have another mark against these handy gadgets as they might actually make people sick.
This was the startling finding of two dermatologists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), who published their report in the journal Pediatrics. An article from The Washington Post discusses the results:
Nickel is everywhere — jewelry, coins, zipper, eyeglass frames and, apparently, portable electronic devices. It’s not that big of an issue – unless you’re allergic.
An 11-year-old with an itchy rash may have been allergic to his own iPad — or the nickel it may have contained — according to a report released Monday in Pediatrics.
The boy, treated at a San Diego hospital, had a history of skin issues, but a different rash developed all over his body and wouldn’t respond to typical treatment. His skin tested positive for nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals, and doctors traced it back to an iPad he had used with increasing frequency the past six months. The iPad tested positive for nickel as well, according to the report.
Unfortunately, nickel is commonly used in a wide variety of gadgets, and is also a major component of jewelries. Not surprisingly, this metal is one of the major causes of contact dermatitis, a type of allergic reaction that results in rashes.
Why does the skin react adversely to nickel? According to research, it’s all down to genetics. In some people, nickel directly activates the molecular receptor called TLR4, which is one of the gatekeepers of the body’s immune system. Once activated, this receptor stimulates inflammation, which causes the redness, swelling, and tenderness associated with dermatitis.
U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, which provides urgent care in Georgetown, Seattle says that people can avoid developing or triggering nickel allergies by making sure that all their jewelry and garments are free of this metal. Likewise, those with an existing allergy can use a protective case to prevent their skin from making contact with the nickel on their gadgets’ outer bodies.
The rash can also be relieved by washing the site with cool water and a mild soap. Topical hydrocortisone creams and oral antihistamines can also be used to alleviate the itching. Of course, if the rash becomes painful or does not disappear in a few days’ time, visit a Georgetown urgent care center so that a medical professional can examine your skin more thoroughly.
(Source: The boy who was allergic to his iPad. Not a joke., The Washington Post, July 14, 2014)