If a child has a nickel allergy, parents may want to think twice about letting them use an iPad or similar device.
Recently, a young boy in San Diego, California was diagnosed with an allergic skin reaction by doctors. Although baffled at first, the 11-year-old’s doctors eventually made the connection that an iPad was to blame for the allergies. After treating the boy, the doctors recommended that the family get a case for the iPad to reduce nickel exposure.

Doctors Shehla Admani and Sharon Jacob, who both work at the University of California, San Diego as dermatologists, were fascinated with the incident and wrote about it in the most recent edition of the Pediatrics journal.

The doctors noted that parents should be aware of “metallic-appearing electronics and personal effects as potential sources of nickel exposure.” According to their research, the team found that skin allergies such as contact dermatitis tend to afflict children and are “increasingly prevalent” among that age group.

In the study, the doctors stated: “Common sources of nickel exposure in children include nickel-releasing clothing fasteners, ear piercings, and nickel-containing dental work.”

For parents that want to keep their children from experiencing nickel-induced contact dermatitis, doctors also recommend that parents keep track of children’s reactions to items like smartphones, certain toys, laptops and desktop computers, and video game controllers.

In most instances, a cover or reduction of exposure to such items reduces symptoms in children. However, that wasn’t the case for the 11-year-old in San Diego. Instead, he had experienced a long-term rash that persisted for six months. His parents had tried over-the-counter treatments to no avail.

His doctors decided to get to the root of the problem with a skin patch test. It eventually revealed that the boy was allergic to nickel, but the result was a long time coming. The doctors noted that once the boy’s parents put a case on the iPad that his rash “significantly improved.”

While the incident came across as a surprise to those doctors, some dermatologists and doctors are aware that such items as iPads and smartphones can cause such an unwanted reaction. According to Dr. Gary Goldenberg of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York’s dermatology and pathology department, nickel’s a pretty frequent irritant.

“Nickel is one of the most common allergies seen in dermatology. It may cause acute reactions, with itching, crusting, and redness, as well as a chronic dermatitis with scaling and redness. It’s not surprising that increased nickel exposure is leading to an increase in nickel allergy in kids,” he said.

If a parent fears that their child may have a nickel allergy, they shouldn’t hesitate to send their child to a doctor to receive allergy testing. They should also protect devices that could expose a child to nickel with cases.