Ok, maybe I'm overstating it a bit, but I am definitely allergic to nickel ... or became allergic to nickel through the use of my MacBook Pro. According to the The Mayo Clinic:
Nickel allergy can affect people of all ages. A nickel allergy usually develops after repeated or prolonged exposure to items containing nickel. Treatments can reduce the symptoms of nickel allergy. Once you develop nickel allergy, however, you will always be sensitive to the metal and need to avoid contact.
Et tu MacBook Pro?
I've been using a MacBook Pro since January of 2010. It was a given that if I was seated, I was likely using my laptop. I love Apple products. They help me create both professionally and in my personal pursuits. But this constant exposure to the Mac's aluminum unibody is the source of my now nearly two-year old allergy to nickel. To make the MacBooks resistant to dents, Apple uses an aluminum alloy that contains large amounts of Ni to increase its hardness. Unlike other alloys, aluminum doesn't do a very good job of binding or enveloping the Ni molecules.
First My Thumbs
At first, I noticed dryness on my right thumb that progressed to scaling, cracking, and fissures. Then my left thumb started showing the same symptoms. I blamed it on the packing and boxing we were doing for an upcoming house move. Then it consumed nearly every bit of every fingertip on my right hand. I knew I had a pretty serious problem.
I can barely describe the excruciating pain. Imagine lots of deep, constant papercuts. I have become somewhat clumsy as I will do all I can to avoid using my hands when they are at their worst. And the constant fissures are causing damage to some nerve endings. Buttoning a shirt takes on agonizing new meaning. I tried every lotion, cream, and emollient I could find. Nothing worked and I had no idea it was the very computer I used every single day for hours at a time. Then one day I noticed the at-rest default state of my hand on my Mac and I just knew it was my laptop. Every place my skin touched the Mac was dry, itchy, and cracked.
A single Google search one moment later led me to this blog post by Vision Aforethought.
Better Living Through Modern Chemistry
Today most doctors will tell you that there is no way to cure an allergic sensitivity to nickel. I was able to find one little drug company in Oklahoma making a preparation for prescription called Eczemol. This preparation can be used in Allergen Immunotherapy protocols. Instead of injections for hay fever or bee stings, one can take this preparation containing Nickel Sulfate (when my hands sweat against the Mac, they create Nickel Oxide which causes the dermatitis symptoms).
Weekly-increasing amounts of Nickel Sulfate are absorbed by a fasted stomach by lengthening the time (each week) between taking the pills and breakfast. Clinical trials have shown that there is a significant results in successfully treating this form of eczema.
Currently, I am at the start of Week 3 and I don't look forward to increasing the time between pills and breakfast. Today, was the first time I had to wait 30 mins and it was making me anxious. Psychosomatic or not, my stomach feels weird after taking the pills. But I am determined to beat this.
Updates will follow.