Allergies to Cell Phones

Allergies to Cell Phones

You could be experiencing contact dermatitis from the nickel or chromium contained within the cell phone.

It seems everyone today has a cell phone. No matter where you go, be it the coffee shop, the grocery store, or the public restroom, people are on their cell phones -- maybe a bit too much. In fact, people are starting to develop allergic reactions to their cell phones.

There have been numerous reports of people with unexplained itchy rashes of the ears and cheeks.

After extensive evaluations by their physicians, it was determined that these people were suffering from contact dermatitis from the metal plating on the cell phones.

"Mobile phone dermatitis," as the rash is being called, may occur especially in people with past reactions to nickel, such as with inexpensive jewelry and with metal snaps on jeans and belt buckles. Another metal, chromium, can also be responsible for these rashes. Treatment with topical steroids and avoidance of future contact (getting a hands-free device) should quickly resolve the problem. Use caution when applying topical steroids to the face; other anti-inflammatory creams, such as Elidel and Protopic, may have less side effects than topical steroids when used on the face for prolonged periods of time. Don't use a topical steroid on your face without checking with your doctor to make sure it's the right strength.

Learn more about the evaluation of contact dermatitis with patch testing.


Bercovitch L, Luo J. Cellphone Contact Dermatitis with Nickel Allergy. CMAJ. 2008 January 1; 178(1): 23–24.

Seishima M, Oyama Z, Oda M. Cellular Phone Dermatitis with Chromate Allergy. Dermatology. 2003;207(1):48-50.

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