Can You Be Allergic To Your Smartphone?

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans suffer from allergies. That equates to about 50 million people who live with allergies. 

Allergies are an immune response that happens when the body reacts to a benign foreign substance that it perceives to be harmful, says Mayo Clinic. After this initial response, the body makes antibodies so that it can be prepared for a future encounter with the substance, or allergen. If you come in contact with the allergen in the future, your immune system may respond by releasing a chemical known as histamine

The symptoms of an allergic reaction are not fun. You may notice that your nose starts to run, or that you have a persistent cough (via MedlinePlus). Your skin can also suffer. You may start to notice blotches of irritated, red, or itchy skin. There are even potentially deadly allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis, reports WebMD.

According to the National Health Service, there are many potential causes of allergies. The laundry list of potential causes ranges from pet dander and botanical pollen to foods and select medicines. But recent research has identified a rather novel everyday object — one that commonly touches your hands, face, and mouth — that could be the source of your allergies. The answer may surprise you.

Smartphones and allergies

A 2014 study identified the possibility of people being exposed to allergens like nickel, which were found in smartphones like the Blackberry. The study concluded that mobile phones containing nickel could be considered a potential source of allergens for people with allergies to nickel. 

And while smartphones like iPhones or Androids did not test positive for nickel, they still may be a source of allergens. According to U.S News & World Report, a science fair project performed by an 18-year-old — presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting — found that smartphones may have dander from pets in addition to bacteria and fungi. Unfortunately, this could be a source of allergies for some people.

Healthline suggests cleaning your smartphone to avoid exposure to allergens. For example, you could clean your smartphone effectively by taking off the case and giving it a thorough rinsing with soap and water, making certain that you are following any recommendations provided by the manufacturer so the phone doesn't become damaged. In terms of frequency, those with seasonal allergies may wish to clean their smartphones more frequently.