Strange But True Category


Modern Medicine: Cell Phone Dermatitis

Photo Credit: Josh Liba

Cell phone junkies may come to develop something even more irritating than a costly bill: cell phone dermatitis. Caused by an allergy to nickel, a metal found in mobile devices, several cases of a rash along the jaw line have been reported from frequent cell phone users.

People with nickel allergies often develop contact dermatitis, a red, itchy and bumpy rash, in places where the metal has touched the skin. Nickel is usually found in jewellery and clothes fasteners, but increased cell phone usage coinciding with the allergy means that skin at the jawline is exposed to the metal more frequently and for longer periods of time.

If you suspect that you may have this allergy, your dermatologists can confirm the diagnosis by conducting a patch test. Possible contact allergens are applied to your skin, and then evaluated to see if they are an irritant.

In cases of nickel dermatitis, the key is avoiding contact with nickel-containing metals. With regards to your cell phone, strategies for avoiding contact include purchasing a cover for it, using a hands-free headset (e.g. Bluetooth), using your speaker phone or finding a phone that does not contain the metal.



Photo Credit: Wakey Wakey News

The complexions of Jersey Shore cast members may leave something to be desired, but is there some basis to their overzealous and compulsive affinity towards artificial tanning?

Doctors at Emory University conducted a study evaluating the effects of a tanned complexion on the public’s perception of attractiveness. Using the popular internet website,, a picture of each subject was taken and doctored to represent an “untanned” complexion. This image was submitted to the website and guests were invited to rate the subject based on personal attraction. The image was then given an artificial tan and re-uploaded to the website and the new rating was captured.

The study concluded that of the population that logged onto the website, the image considered to be “tanned” was rated higher, and thus, more attractive.

North American tanning culture has exploded in the last decade, despite the increased awareness of the risks associated with this behaviour including a heightened risk of skin cancer. Much misinformation is spread, but it is important to remember that skin damage doesn’t discriminate between light from the Sun and light from a tanning bed. Make sure you wear sunscreen at all times and avoid going to indoor tanning salons altogether. Skin cancer and premature aging are preventable, so take measures to protect yourself against UV rays. And regardless of your skin tone, dermatologists around the world agree that the best colour of all is au natural.


Una Cerveza, Por Favor

Photo Credit: Ram Yoga

Relaxing under the hot Sun is made infinitely better with a cold drink in hand, but did you know that a simple “sip and drip” can cause a lasting skin reaction? Beware of any Mexican beers or tipple that come garnished with a slice of lime. The combination of lime juice and UV rays can lead to a condition called phytophotodermatitis or ‘Mexican beer dermatitis”.

Lime juice contains psoralen, a plant-based substance that increases your skin’s sensitivity to light. When the skin comes into contact with lime juice and is then exposed to UV light, an inflammatory reaction occurs in the form of redness, discolouration or blistering. The resulting pigmentation can linger for several weeks to months.

Dr. Singh has seen many cases where patients have come complaining of discolouration on their skin and all shared a commonality:  they had been out in the sun enjoying beverages adorned with lime.

The marks can take the shape of streaks – looking like something has dripped down their hand and arm – or a spray. The customary practice of putting the slice of lime into the beer and placing one’s thumb over the mouth while inverting the bottle, often produces a spew of liquid due to carbonation. Initially the skin turns red much like sunburn but then becomes brown and blotchy.

Lime is not the only culprit. The same reaction can occur if your skin comes into contact with lemon, celery, parsley, parsnip, fig, rue or scurf pea.

To avoid this condition, wash your hands or anywhere else on your body that has come into contact with lime juice. And remember to please drink responsibly.