Smart phone can give you dermatitis ! [MUST READ]


Have you noticed that whenever you try to answer a call, people around you want to see the kind of phone you are holding? Beautifully-designed phones attract attention, such that those who can’t control their curiosity readily asks how much you bought it and where.

Indeed, those who own smart phones confess that they are usually afraid to brandish them in public places like crowded motor parks, markets and other insecure places where they may become objects of attacks by hoodlums who make a living by stealing good phones.

Smart phones don’t come cheap, as they are highly priced. Tech geeks say a smart phone ranges from N50,000 to anywhere around N400,000 or more, depending on how recent it was made, the manufacturer, country of origin, as well as the functions therein.

But then, take a look at your skin — especially that part of the face where you usually receive your calls — do you have what looks like dry, itchy patches of skin along the cheekbones, jaw line, and ears? Or has the skin become darkened or scarred and you have no idea how it happened?

These questions become pertinent in view of the fact that despite all the ogling that a smart phone and its owner receive, a new data presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology gives smart phones a knockdown in terms of the alleged health risk they pose to users.

According to lead study author, who is also a member of the ACAAI, Dr. Tania Mucci, “researchers analysed 75 cell phones — including iPhones, Droids, Blackberries, and flip phones — in search of models containing cobalt and nickel (two common allergens).

The result shows that flip phones contained the most nickel. As for the smart phones, the Blackberry was the only model said to contain one of the suspect substances. In fact, the researchers disclose that approximately one-third of all Blackberries contain nickel — one of the commonest allergens that cause contact dermatitis.

Scientists warn that when the skin is in contact with nickel for too long, you could develop an allergy to it. For busy people who make or receive numerous calls per day, therefore, the watchword is being careful.

But then, what is nickel and how dangerous can it be to human health? Environmental chemists say nickel normally occurs at very low levels in the environment. As such, food is the major source of exposure to nickel, albeit in small amount.

Toxicologists say you may also be exposed to nickel by breathing air, drinking nickel-tainted water or smoking tobacco containing the metal. Some household stuffs, such as stainless steel bowls or plates, keys, personal effects such as jewelry, as well as coin money also contain nickel, experts say.

In a discussion about the toxic effects of the environment we live in, the Medical Director of MART-Life Clinic, Lagos, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru warns that exposure to extremely high level of nickel through inhalation can lead to severe damage to the lungs and kidneys.

He also warns that it can lead to “gastrointestinal distress” such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea; or scarring of the lung (pulmonary fibrosis) and renal oedema (fluid build-up in the kidney).

Scientists say in humans, the most common result of chronic skin exposure to nickel is dermatitis, and it comes with symptoms of eczema (rash, itching or burning sensations) on the fingers, hands, wrists and forearms, among others.

Though dermatitis is not contagious or dangerous, dermatologists say it can be uncomfortable. And when it takes permanent residency along your cheekbones, jaw line and ears, other social factors may start to creep in, as people are now forced to take a second look at your face after your phone call!

Dermatologist, Dr. Peter Esele, explains that nickel allergy usually develops after repeated or prolonged exposure to items containing the metal; and that once you develop nickel allergy, you will always be sensitive to the metal and therefore need to avoid contact with it altogether.

He warns that if you have a skin rash and don’t know how you got it, you should consult your doctor, especially when you start experiencing pain, increased redness, warmth or pus in the affected area. “All these are indications that the affected area has been infected,” Esele says.

Sad still, Mucci notes that there is no cure for nickel allergy and that the best bet is to eliminate the nickel-contaminated substance that’s giving you problems — including your Blackberry, perhaps!

Nickel allergy signs and symptoms

•         Rash or bumps on the skin

•         Itching, which may be severe

•         Redness or changes in skin color

•         Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn

•         Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases



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