PhotoBefore 2007, when Apple introduced the first iPhone, the Blackberry, made by Research in Motion (RIM), ruled the smartphone world.

Since then, the Blackberry fortunes have fallen, not just because of the iPhone but because of competition from Android phones as well. So the latest news from the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) can't be good news for RIM.

A study of smartphones looked at devices that might have a tendency to make you sick, because of the metals they contain.

Many Blackberries contain nickel

“Approximately one-third of all Blackberries contain nickel, but neither cobalt nor nickel was detected in iPhones or Droids,” said allergist Tania Mucci, M.D., lead study author and ACAAI member. “Both metals can cause an allergic reaction including dry, itchy patches along the cheek bones, jaw line and ears.”

If you haven't updated your own flip cell phone for a smartphone, the researchers suggest you have a reason if you suffer from certain allergies. These older model phones also contain cobalt and nickel.

Roughly 91 percent contained nickel and 52 percent tested positive for cobalt. These metals are commonly used in items such as jewelry, coins and even makeup.

Common allergy

Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens, affecting 17 percent of women and three percent of men.

“Patients with nickel and cobalt allergies should consider using iPhones or Droids to reduce the chance of having an allergic reaction,” said allergist Luz Fonacier, M.D., study author and ACAAI fellow. “Blackberry users with known allergies should avoid prolonged conversations, text messaging and handling their phones if they begin noticing symptoms.”

Symptoms of nickel and cobalt allergies can include redness, swelling, itching, eczema, blistering, skin lesions and occasional scarring. For sufferers that are glued to their phones, ACAAI advises opting for plastic phone cases, wireless ear pieces and clear film screens to decrease allergic reactions.

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