July 21, 2014 — The journal Pediatrics has published a case report of an 11 year-old boy who developed an allergic skin rash after using a first-generation iPad, which contains nickel and aluminum in the case.
The boy developed a rash all over his body that did not respond to the usual treatment of a topical corticosteroid cream. He was diagnosed with allergic contact dermatitis and his skin tested positive for a nickel allergy.
The source was traced to a 2010 iPad that the boy used with increasing frequency over a six-month period, coinciding with the appearance of rashes, according to his family. The iPad tested positive for nickel. The boy had a history of rashes but they were different from those associated with the iPad.
Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens, affecting more than 10% of the population. Researchers warned:
“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 responded by stating that incidents are “extremely rare” and the iPad is made from the high-quality materials with the same safety standards set for jewelry by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Nickel allergies are not life-threatening, but they can be uncomfortable. They may also need to be treated with steroids and/or antibiotics if the skin becomes infected. Symptoms typically include skin bumps, scales, redness, itching, dry patches, blisters, and more.
This is not the first time a tech company has had problems with skin reactions to their products. In February, the Fitbit Force activity-tracking wristband was recalled after more than 10,000 people reported skin irritations, including about 250 complaints of blistering. The company was also hit with a class action and an individual lawsuit. Fitbit warned that some users might be reacting to nickel present in the surgical grade stainless steel used in the device.