On The Early ShowFriday, dermatologist Dennis Gross explained that cell phone manufacturers turn to nickel for many models, and ten percent of us is allergic to nickel.
"It's no different from being allergic to a perfume or anything that contacts the skin that causes a rash," Dr. Gross told co-anchor Harry Smith on The Early Show Friday. "(If you're allergic), "Contact of your phone against your skin can cause a itchy, scaly rash."
If you're getting a rash on your face by the ear you put your cell phone against, "Be suspicious," Dr. Gross advises.
He says the problem is significant: "If one-out-of-ten people is allergic -- and how many people are using cell phones -- one-in-ten adds up to a large number."
Dr. Gross adds that it's easy enough to find out if your phone is made with nickel: Order a kit online that contains a nickel solution. "There are people who are allergic to costume jewelry. This has been known for years," he points out.
You simply dip a Q-Tip in the solution, rub your phone with it (it won't damage your phone) and, if the Q-Tip turns pink, "That is proof positive that your phone contains nickel."
If you suspect your phone is giving you a rash, simply put a plastic covering over it, or use headphones instead of putting the phone to your ear. Or use speakerphone mode.
"And understand something else," Dr. Gross cautions. "The longer the phone is against your skin, the worse the likelihood you will (get a rash). (And) if you're perspiring, more nickel comes off."
Should you get a rash, "It's very treatable. The whole idea is to prevent it. You can get hydrocortisone over-the-counter; that'll take it away. But kids are getting it and adults are getting it. People should know this exists."