Well, even if cell phones won’t fry your brain like popcorn, there’s something new to worry about: “mobile phone dermatitis.” According to the British Association of Dermatologists, as reported by Reuters, there’s enough nickel in many popular mobile devices to cause a reaction in sensitive users. If you get an otherwise inexplicable rash on your face or ear, they say, you should suspect your cell phone.
Apparently the risk is higher for women, who have more tendency to develop nickel sensitivity due to jewelry. The dermatologists cite some published studies in urging their members to take this possibility into account. They also tested a bunch of popular phones to find out which ones were risky: affected models include the Motorola Rzr and Q, the BlackBerry 8700c, and some Sony Ericsson models. The BlackBerry Pearl, Palm Treo 650, and Kyocera KX444 were among those with a clean bill of health.
So how much should you worry about this? Probably not a whole lot. The incidence of nickel sensitivity in the general population runs around 8% in women and less than 1% in men; if you’re affected, you probably already know it. If you do end up with red skin and a rash on your cell phone using cheek, then it’s worth switching handsets – or just getting a bluetooth headset.