CHICAGO (TheBlaze/AP) — Unexplained rash? Check your iPad. It turns out the popular tablet computer may contain nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals — and it's not the only tech device to see this issue either.
Recent reports in medical journals detail nickel allergies from a variety of personal electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones. But it was an Apple iPad that caused an itchy body rash in an 11-year-old boy recently treated at a San Diego hospital, according to a report in Monday's issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Nickel rashes aren't life-threatening but they can be very uncomfortable, and they may require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if the skin eruptions become infected, said Dr. Sharon Jacob, a dermatologist at Rady Children's Hospital, where the boy was treated. Jacob said the young patient had to miss school because of the rash.
The boy 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 treatment. Skin testing showed he had a nickel allergy, and doctors traced it to an iPad his family had bought in 2010.
Doctors tested the device and detected a chemical compound found in nickel in the iPad's outside coating.
"He used the iPad daily," she said.
He got better after putting it in a protective case, she said
Whether all iPad models and other Apple devices contain nickel is uncertain; Apple spokesman Chris Gaither said the company had no comment.
Nickel rashes also have been traced to other common products including some jewelry, eyeglass frames and zippers. Earlier this year, FitBit recalled its wrist-worn device due to reported rashes.
“Some users may be reacting to the nickel present in the surgical grade stainless steel used in the device,” FitBit CEO James Park wrote on the site in February at the time of the voluntary recall. “Other users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the materials used in the strap or the adhesives used to assemble the product.”
Jacob, a co-author on the recent report about such rashes, said evidence suggests nickel allergies are become 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.
Front page image Bloom Design/Shutterstock.