Cell Phone Dermatitis - Nickel Allergy Caused by Nickel in Cell Phones

Cell phone dermatitis is on the rise. 

A new form of nickel allergy (allergic contact dermatitis to nickel) on the face and ears is appearing after using phones that contain nickel.

An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2008 found that over half the cell phones tested with a dimethylglyoxime (dmg) spot test tested positive for nickel. Menu buttons, decorative logos and metallic frames around the liquid crystal display (LCD) were the most common sites where nickel was found on the mobile phones.

Another study conducted in 2012 revealed that iPhones and Android phones did not contain nickel, but some BlackBerry models and older flip phones did have this metal.

When possible, researchers recommend that nickel sensitive individuals test cell phones for nickel content before purchasing using Nickel Alert®

If a cell phone containing nickel is currently owned, there are 3 options for owners to consider:

  • Coating the area with Nickel Guard


    —3 thin coats is very effective on non-movable parts.
  • Use the speakerphone or headset.
  • Use protective plastic cover.

The duration and conditions of use greatly influence the likelihood of a reaction. 

Prolonged contact especially in warmer environments enhances nickel transfer to the skin and will intensify the rash.

WebMD summarized the 2012 study and provided this list of cell phones that may contribute to metal allergy.

Phone models tested that had nickel included: 

BlackBerry Bold BlackBerry Tour
Sony Ericsson Flip Z520a Motorola Flip v265
Motorola Flip E815 Samsung Flip SCHA670
LG Flip VX 6100 LG Flip CV 500
LG Flip VX 4400  


Phone models that had no nickel detected in all phones tested included: 

iPhone 4 iPhone 4s
iPhone 3 Motorola V950 Rugged Flip
BlackBerry Torch Motorola Droid
BlackBerry Curve



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