Boy's stubborn rash traced to iPad, nickel allergy - KMSP-TV

Boy's stubborn rash traced to iPad, nickel allergy

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Have you noticed a sudden rash on your body? Fox 9 News has learned the culprit may be the technology you use every day for work or play.

When an 11-year-old San Diego boy who had a stubborn rash that lasted for months on end found creams and usual treatments were ineffective, doctors traced the reaction to the boy's iPad in a case study. However, the material said to be behind the allergy isn't just found in tablets. It's in laptops and cell phones too.

"We're seeing them increasingly," Dr. Mohiba Tareen, M.D., told Fox 9 News.

Tareen has noticed a rise in the number of patients she sees who suffer from a nickel allergy. In fact, she said that about 10 percent of the adult population had the allergy just 10 years ago.

"The numbers have risen to about 15 percent, so that's really a lot in just a short period of time," Tareen explained. "Furthermore, if you really were to look at the subset of the data, the rise is even higher in children -- up to 20-25 percent of children manifest nickel allergies."

According to Tareen, children as young as 8 have developed sensitivities as tablets and smartphones have surged in popularity. That's part of the reason why Tareen was not surprised to learn that an iPad was the cause of the California boy's rash -- the rest of the reason is that one of her own team members also had a similar experience.

"We use iPads in my office for documentation of electronic medical records," she said. "My colleague actually, at the end of the day, we will see little rashes on her."

For anyone wondering if they may have a nickel allergy, Tareen says there are some key symptoms to keep an eye out for.

"The main hallmark symptoms of these types of rashes are itching, redness, occasionally flaking and burning," she said. "It's not necessarily just in the areas where you're exposed. After a while, the allergy can go to other places."

Unfortunately, Tareen says once a person has developed a contact dermatitis condition like a nickel allergy, it stays for life -- but she thinks the emergence of such conditions will lead to a positive change.

"I actually think that will be good for society because, over time, our industrial manufacturers are going to eliminate these inexpensive nickel products from our common household items and that will help eliminate those rashes over time," she said.

Apple reps declined to comment on whether the iPad or other devices have nickel in them or in the coating of their products, but Tareen plans to get covers for the devices she keeps in her office as a solution.

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