US boy develops itchy rash from his iPad amid reports of nickel allergies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 10:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 10:14pm


Unexplained rash? Check your iPad. It turns out the popular tablet computer may contain nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals.

Recent reports in medical journals detail nickel allergies from a variety of personal electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones.

But it was an Apple iPad that caused an itchy body rash in an 11-year-old boy recently treated at a California hospital, according to a report in yesterday's issue of Pediatrics.

Nickel rashes weren't life-threatening but they could be very uncomfortable, and they might require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if the skin eruptions became infected, said Dr Sharon Jacob, a dermatologist at Rady Children's Hospital, where the boy was treated. Jacob, who co-wrote the report, said the young patient had to miss school because of the rash.

The boy had a common skin condition that causes scaly patches, but he developed a different rash all over his body that didn't respond to usual treatment. Skin testing showed he had a nickel allergy, and doctors traced it to an iPad his family had bought in 2010.

Doctors tested the device and detected a chemical compound found in nickel in the iPad's outside coating.

"He used the iPad daily," she said.

He got better after putting it in a protective case, she said.

Whether all iPad models and other Apple devices contain nickel is uncertain. Apple spokesman Chris Gaither said the company had no comment.

Nickel rashes have also been traced to jewellery, spectacle frames and zippers.

Jacob said evidence suggested nickel allergies were becoming more common, or increasingly recognised. She cited national data showing that about 25 per cent of children who got skin tests for allergies had nickel allergies, versus about 17 per cent a decade ago.

She said doctors needed to consider electronic devices as potential sources when patients sought treatment for skin rashes.