Allergic to Cell Phone Use

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cell phone

A manager of a commercial company presented with clinical manifestations of allergic contact dermatitis. After the patch test, the patient got to know that she is allergic to cell phone use!

A 38-year-old woman presented to the dermatology department with a pruritic eczematous lesion on her face. The patients reported that the symptoms were present for the past 6 months. She worked as a manager for a commercial company and her work required use of cell phone for many hours in a day. Additionally, the patient had a history of metal allergy and her family history was positive for atopic dermatitis.

Physical examination revealed confluent erythematous and squamous plaques at the left pre-auricular and auricular region. The lesions varied from 1 to 4 cm in size. The rest of the examination was normal and the patient had no other cutaneous diseases or photodermatoses.

The doctors performed a patch test SIDAPA. After 48 hours, they recorded a preliminary reading of the skin after removing the patch. Moreover, 72 hours later they recorded the final reading. The test was positive for nickel sulfate and for cobalt chloride. However, more for nickel than cobalt.

The doctors also performed a patch test Metal series, which was negative at 48 and 72 hours.

With the history, clinical presentation, and patch test results, they hypothesized cell phone as a trigger of pre-auricular dermatitis. Her physicians started her on oral antihistamines and topical steroids. However, after one week only partial improvement observed. Therefore, the patient was counselled to avoid direct contact of the cell phone with her ears. Instead, use the speakerphone when needed.  She observed significant improvement when she avoided the auricular contact.

Six months later, the patient had a complete remission of the cutaneous lesions. Moreover, there were no recurrences of auricular dermatitis.

Many mobile phones have levels of metals such as nickel and cobalt, which are known allergens causing contact dermatitis. It is imperative to be aware of this disease of the new world. Although dermatitis is a known disease for ages, cell phone as a trigger is new. Therefore, it is crucial for dermatologists to be aware of emerging mobile phone dermatitis, especially among young adults and adolescents.

Reference:

Tammaro A, Magri F, Pigliacelli F, et al. Allergic Contact Dermatitis to a Cell Phone. Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2018;26(4):339-340.

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Dr. Arsia Parekh
Dr. Arsia Hanif has been a meritorious Healthcare professional with a proven track record throughout her academic life securing first position in her MCAT examination and then, in 2017, she successfully completed her Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery from Dow University of Health Sciences. She has had the opportunity to apply her theoretical knowledge to the real-life scenarios, as a House Officer (HO) serving at Civil Hospital. Whilst working at the Civil Hospital, she discovered that nothing satisfies her more than helping other humans in need and since then has made a commitment to implement her expertise in the field of medicine to cure the sick and regain the state of health and well-being. Being a Doctor is exactly what you’d think it’s like. She is the colleague at work that everyone wants to know but nobody wants to be. If you want to get something done, you approach her – everyone knows that! She is currently studying with Medical Council of Canada and aspires to be a leading Neurologist someday. Alongside, she has taken up medical writing to exercise her skills of delivering comprehensible version of the otherwise difficult medical literature. Her breaks comprise either of swimming, volunteering services at a Medical Camp or spending time with family.

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