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Itchy rash? It may be caused by your iPad

Electronic devices like iPad can cause itchy rash
Electronic devices like iPad can cause itchy rash
Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

A new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics reports that electronic devices, including iPads, can trigger a nasty, itchy skin rash in vulnerable people.

Researchers involved in the study wrote about the importance of considering any electronic device or other personal item that appears to contain metal as a potential source of nickel, which can cause skin rashes called allergic contact dermatitis.

Children are especially prone to these skin outbreaks when exposed to devices containing nickel, including electronics and other personal effects that appear to be made of metal.

Among personal affects that commonly contain nickel are clothing fasteners, which release nickel, as well as dental work and ear piercings. Additional sources of nickel include mobile phones, laptop computers and video-game controllers. The study authors write that even wind-up toys can contain nickel, which has resulted in many a child developing a nickel allergy, manifested in the form of an itchy rash.

Sometimes nickel can cause a generalized rash, which left untreated, can persist for several months. Even dermatologists can miss the culprit, testing rash patients with allergy creams they’ve used in the past, only to get no reaction. That’s when a skin patch test is necessary in order to find out if the source of the rash is due to nickel.

What can you do if your iPad or other electronic device causes you to break out in a rash from a nickel allergy?

The study authors, both of whom are dermatologists at the the University of California , San Diego (UCSD), suggest covering the metallic part of the iPad with duct tape or otherwise purchasing one of those protective cases to cover the metallic portions of the iPad. Just make sure the case is nickel-free, which you should also do before purchasing other products that may contain the allergy causing metal. Same goes for laptop computers and other electronic devices like cell phones.

Dr. Michele Zormeier, a double-board certified facial cosmetic surgeon in Indiana and California, who has additional training in functional medicine, said that nickel is one of the most common sources of allergy, and that it can cause severe reactions in patients that include acute itching, redness, inflammation and painful crusting on the skin.

She advises anyone who suspects they may have a nickel allergy to consult with a board-certified dermatologist.