Cell phones regularly come under fire for raising the risk of brain cancer-an assertion that has created some controversy. One thing we know for sure is that heavy users can develop nasty skin rashes. The condition even has a name. Doctors in Italy documented the first case in 2000 and appropriately categorized it as "mobile phone dermatitis." Thomas Brunoski, MD, a practitioner of nutritional and preventive medicine in Westport, Connecticut, explained that this cell phone allergy is actually people reacting to nickel, which is commonly found in the exterior casings, menu buttons, headset logos and the fancy trim on mobile devices. But, he adds, while the itchy, bumpy rash may be annoying, it is usually not severe.

What you can do: You can be tested for a nickel allergy. Many more women than men have nickel allergy, probably because of exposure during ear piercings. Another place nickel is typically found is in the cheap buttons on jeans, which cause a steady stream of complaints. Some women report that putting clear nail polish on jeans buttons helps with that problem, and they suggest that a similar tactic on cell phones might be useful, although there is no data on this. Another alternative is one of the many cell-phone covers that are commercially available. Or opt for a hands-free device (e.g., a Bluetooth wireless headset or wired headset). This will protect you from both the allergy and the cell phone's radiation.

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