iPad Use Can Trigger Nickel Allergies in Kids

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A simple game of Angry Birds could leave your child with an itchy rash, because new studies show that iPads can trigger nickel allergies in children.

In last week’s issue of Pediatrics, doctors described how an 11-year-old boy developed a skin allergy from the nickel in his first-generation iPad.

Over the last decade, nickel allergies have shot from 17 percent of people to 25 percent. About 16 percent of children have nickel sensitivities — and half of them develop skin rashes if they come in contact with nickel.

nickel allergies

Nickel is becoming a prime cause of allergic contact dermatitis, which usually appears 6-24 hours after exposure. It’s often an itchy, bumpy rash, or may appear as dry patches that resemble a burn. It won’t go away until you’ve detected — and eliminated — the source of the nickel.

Children are exposed to nickel through clothing fasteners, ear piercings, dental work, laptops, mobile phones, and video game controllers.

Dermatologists are encouraging parents to consider their child’s exposure to “metallic-appearing electronics” because of their potential nickel content.

If your child uses your family’s iPad and you’re not sure if they’re allergic to nickel, try buying a nickel-free protective cover to keep their skin from touching the metal. You can also apply duct-tape to the iPad to create a barrier, but that’s probably not the best look for your device.

In a statement released by Apple, they describe these kinds of allergic reactions as “extremely rare.” They say their products meet the “same strict standards” set for jewellery, but nickel is actually a very common component of jewellery.

Nickel allergies are determined through a patch test, where a dermatologist applies a bit of nickel to your skin, covers it with a match, and leaves it for 48 hours. If you’re allergic to nickel, you should see a reaction when the patch is removed.

If your child has a nickel allergy, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use protective covers on any electronics (iPads, mobile phones, etc.)
  • If they want to get their ears pierced, make sure it’s done with sterile, surgical-grade stainless steel instruments — not piercing guns, which often contain nickel
  • Only let them wear jewellery or watches that are surgical-grade stainless steel, pure sterling silver, copper, platinum, titanium, or 14-, 18-, or 24-carat yellow gold. White gold can contain nickel, and should be avoided.
  • Check their clothes to make sure that any buttons, snaps, or zippers are made from plastic or plastic-coated metal.

H/T to InteliHealth

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

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