Nickel in electronic devices might cause a skin rash

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Children who use electronic devices such as notebook computers, smartphones and tablet computers are exposed to the possibility of an allergic reaction such as a rash if such a device contains nickel, according to a report.

The authors of a report that the medical journal Pediatrics published today say consumers who have smartphones and tablet computers should use cases, covers or even duct tape to reduce a child’s skin contact with the device.

Children who use notebook computers should keep those devices on a table or a desk. They should cover with a layer of stickers or duct tape the areas near the keyboard where wrists make contact with the device, says Sharon Jacob, who is the study’s lead author and an associate clinical professor at University of California-San Diego School of Medicine.

Nickel is one of the most common allergy-inducing metals, according to Mayo Clinic.

The report focused on an 11-year-old boy in San Diego who had a skin rash and who didn’t respond to standard topical treatment. When his family’s tablet computer tested positive for nickel, the boy was advised to use an case for his device that covers the back of the tablet. After he put the tablet in a case and complied with a nickel-avoidance program, the boy’s condition improved significantly.

Jacob says you can test electronic devices for nickel by using a dimethylglyoxime test that’s available online for as little as $19.

– K. Carlson