The Washington Post

The boy who was allergic to his iPad. Not a joke.

This undated photo provided by American Academy of Pediatrics shows a rash on an unidentified 11-year old boy from a nickel allergy. Case reports in medical journals detail nickel allergies from personal electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones. But it was an Apple iPad that caused an itchy body rash in this 11-year-old boy recently treated at a San Diego hospital, according to a report in Pediatrics. Nickel rashes aren't life-threatening but they can be very uncomfortable, and they may require treatment with steroids, and antibiotics if the skin eruptions become infected, said Dr. Sharon Jacob, an associate professor and dermatologist at the University of California, San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital, where the boy was treated. (AP Photo/American Academy of Pediatrics) A rash on the back of an 11-year-old boy recently treated at a San Diego hospital, according to a report in Pediatrics. (American Academy of Pediatrics via AP)

Nickel is everywhere — jewelry, coins, zipper, eyeglass frames and, apparently, portable electronic devices. It’s not that big of an issue — unless you’re allergic.

An 11-year-old with an itchy rash may have been allergic to his own iPad — or the nickel it may have contained — according to a report released Monday in Pediatrics.

The boy, treated at a San Diego hospital, had a history of skin issues, but a different rash developed all over his body and wouldn’t respond to typical treatment. His skin tested positive for nickel, one of the most common allergy-inducing metals, and doctors traced it back to an iPad he had used with increasing frequency the past six months. The iPad tested positive for nickel as well, according to the report.

According to the article in Pediatrics, the boy was advised to use the Smart Case, “which provides overall coverage of the iPad, as opposed to the Smart Cover, which only provides coverage of the screen.” When he did that, the rash significantly improved.

A quick search of the Internet reveals quite a number of people reporting rashes from electronic devices over the years. Here’s a story about a woman who got a rash so bad from an iPhone it left an impression on her face.

Nickel rashes aren’t life-threatening, but they can be very uncomfortable. They may require treatment with steroids and antibiotics if skin eruptions become infected, Sharon Jacob, a dermatologist at Rady Children’s Hospital, where the boy was treated, told the Associated Press. Jacob is a co-author of the report.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a nickel allergy may include:

  • Rash or bumps on the skin
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Redness or changes in skin color
  • Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn
  • Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases

It’s unclear whether all iPad models and other Apple devices contain nickel. Apple spokesman Chris Gaither told the AP that the company had no comment.

Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college
Next Story
Soraya Nadia McDonald · July 14, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.