July 21, 2014 — Nickel in the aluminum case of a first-generation Apple iPad has been linked to a serious skin reaction in an 11 year-old boy, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.
The boy developed a rash all over his body after using the 2010 iPad with increasing frequency over a six-month period. Although the boy had problems with skin reactions in the past, they were different from the rash that developed after he used the iPad.
Unfortunately, the normal treatment of topical corticosteroids failed to cure his rash. He was diagnosed with allergic contact dermatitis and his skin tested positive for a nickel allergy. The iPad also tested positive for nickel.
Studies indicate that at least 10% of the population is allergic to nickel, and the rate is growing — especially among children. According to researchers:
“With the increasing prevalence of nickel allergy in the pediatric population, it is important for clinicians to continue to consider metallic-appearing electronics and personal effects as potential sources of nickel exposure.”
Apple called skin reactions from the iPad “extremely rare” and said the product is manufactured from high-quality materials with the same safety standards set for jewelry by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). Consumers can avoid rashes by using the iPad in a protective case.
Earlier this year, the Fitbit Force activity-tracking wristband was recalled after more than 10,000 people developed skin irritation, including hundreds who developed blisters. Fitbit warned that some users might be reacting to nickel in the surgical-grade stainless steel. A class action and individual lawsuits were filed by people who were injured, including one woman who said she was “scarred for life.”
A skin allergy to nickel is uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening. In severe cases, blisters may form and cause long-term skin damage or even scarring. Patients may need to take antibiotics if the skin becomes infected. Symptoms may include skin bumps or scales, red skin discoloration, itching, dry patches, blistering, and more.