Some people are susceptible to an allergic reaction to nickel after spending too long chatting away on their cell phone, researchers explained at the Annual Scientific Meeting ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology). Tattoos, body piercings and cosmetics can also trigger unpleasant reactions.
Luz Fonacier, MD, an allergist and ACAAI Fellow, said:
- "Increased use of cell phones with unlimited usage plans has led to more prolonged exposure to the nickel in phones. Patients come in with dry, itchy patches on their cheeks, jaw lines and ears and have no idea what is causing their allergic reaction."
In most cases, contact with such things as coins, keys or paper clips are not prolonged, making it less likely that sensitivity will develop. However, nickel can pass from the hands to the face and eye area if the individual rubs his/her eyes, for example.
Dr. Fonacier said:
- "Allergists are seeing increasing numbers of nickel allergy among patients. Some researchers suggest that there should be more nickel regulation in the U.S. like there is in some European countries."
- Itching, which is sometimes severe
- Skin redness or changes in the color of the skin
- Skin lesions
- Blisters and sometimes oozing
- Sometimes there may be scarring
- Some parts of the skin may have dry patches that look like a burn
Body Piercings and TattoosAccording to Dr. Fonacier, 24% of adults aged 18-50 have tattoos while 14% have body piercings. Tattoo allergies, which are much more common than people think, generally come from the pigment used for the coloring.
Dr. Fonacier said:
- "The issue with body piercing goes back to the increasing prevalence of nickel allergies. Some researchers suggest we delay introduction of ear piercing until children are older than 10 years."
Cosmetics have common allergens tooDr. Fonacier said:
- "It's well known that our everyday cosmetic products contain many substances that cause allergies. Although the cosmetic industry is one of the largest in the world, it is not highly regulated in the U.S. The average person uses 12 personal products a day. Those 12 products may contain up to 168 chemicals, many of which can be an irritant or a substance that causes an allergic reaction."
If you wonder whether you may be having an allergic reaction to nickel, cosmetics or tattoos you should see a qualified allergist and get tested. This would be a specialized doctor.
Written by Christian Nordqvist