Are You Allergic to Your Phone?

Flickr/VancityAllie/CC BY 2.0

The BlackBerry - iPhone smackdown has been raging ever since Apple introduced its sassy contender in 2007, with a clear victor hard to discern. But with a new study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), one of the two wallops the other when it comes to two common allergins, cobalt and nickel.

Nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis and incites an itchy rash when your skin comes into contact with a usually harmless substance. Allergic reactions to contact with cobalt include contact dermatitis and irritant dermatitis. Both can result in redness, swelling, itching, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and occasional scarring.

ACAAI allergists took on the task of studying cell phones for the allergenic metals and found that around one-third of all Blackberries contain nickel, but neither nickel or cobalt was found in iPhones.

Researcher Luz Fonacier, MD, of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., and State University of New York Stony Brook noted that wear and tear may result in more nickel being exposed. "In those phones that looked like the keypad had a lot of wear and tear, they were more likely to test positive for nickel. In the BlackBerries, the nickel was found mostly on the keypads."

And old-school flip phones didn't fare much better, also revealing levels of cobalt and nickel. Roughly 91 percent contained nickel and 52 percent tested positive for cobalt.

"Patients with nickel and cobalt allergies should consider using iPhones or Droids to reduce the chance of having an allergic reaction," said allergist Luz Fonacier, M.D., study author and ACAAI fellow. "BlackBerry users with known allergies should avoid prolonged conversations, text messaging and handling their phones if they begin noticing symptoms."

If you find yourself itching while you're Instagramming, but are nonetheless addicted to your allergic phone, ACAAI suggests opting for a phone case, wireless ear piece, or clear film screen to minimize allergic reactions.

Tags: Cell Phones | Gadgets | iPhone

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