My wireless literally burns me.

WARNING: this post includes uncensored pictures of a potentially provocative area of my body. While not Rated R (or even PG-13) you are hereby warned to avert your eyes if you believe that you may be even mildly offended or worse, intrigued.

When I was younger I had a lighter leak in my pocket. Unbeknownst to me, lighter fluid leaked all over my upper thigh and by the time I realized it, I had a hand-sized chemical burn where my pocket normally rests on my thigh. After some time (and discarding an otherwise perfect pair of pants!) the irritation went away.

Fast forward to several years ago and I noticed a similar ‘irritation’ forming on both of my upper thighs underneath my pockets. Since I’m a fairly light skinned guy – not albino, but still pretty light and pretty susceptible to sunburns in general, I wrote it off as pocket irritation. I couldn’t find any reasonable rhyme or reason to the general pocket-sized redness and irritation that I was experiencing but didn’t pay it much attention. Being, what I consider a professional in my industry, I recently decided to ‘up my wardrobe’. As a reasonably tall fellow I opted for custom pants among other things and the particular pants that I received included a right-hand pocket-in-the-pocket that was a perfect fit for my wallet! (Follow me here) When I started wearing said new pants, I consistently kept my wallet in the small right pocket which had the side effect of keeping my left pocket as a perfect place for my phone! I started getting into the habit of keeping my phone in my left pocket even when I wasn’t dressed for work. Then one day I noticed, the light, even, and spread out irritation that I used to carry on on both of my upper thighs started getting really bad on my left side – immediately under where my phone fit and has completely disappeared on the right!

Now, I’ve been around the wireless industry for a while now and I’ve heard it all the way up to wireless gives me headaches, so I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but the skin irritation that has followed my phone (and cleared up where my phone no longer is!) has given me a good reason to re-consider the potential risks that may be involved in wireless networking. My phone has not gotten hot, so I’m left with assuming that the skin irritation I’m experiencing is being caused by nothing short of energy radiation burns (not radioactive, silly!). Maybe it’s WiFi, maybe it’s cellular, maybe it’s bluetooth? Does it matter?

Now, I’ve not been to a doctor to have my burns officially evaluated (trying to not get a ‘don’t stick your finger in your eye if it hurts opinion) but there is a clear correlation between the location of my phone and the burns and irritations I’m personally experiencing.

IMG_6008 FullSizeRender

Having said all of that, I’m curious what you, the reader thinks. What do you think about my burns that have clearly followed my phone? Are short-range, long term exposure issues real? I for one will be distancing myself from my device until my burns go away, and likely for some time to follow.


53 Responses to My wireless literally burns me.

  1. Tim says:

    I had a similar issue, and it turns out I was allergic to the decals on t-shirts. I used to collect Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts, etc, and I had skin problems when I wore them continuously.

    That said, what if you took an old phone and removed the battery and put it in your pocket for a week to see what happens. It might just be the plastic/glass of the phone that causes you discomfort.

    I did not want to say goodbye to all my decaled shirts, but now they’re all gone and I’m much more comfortable. Who knew!

    • scwifi says:

      Of course if I was wearing decals inside my pockets, I’d be concerned! 🙂 Regardless, there are lots of things in our environment that we take for granted as ‘being safe’ that we maybe should be looking at more. WiFi causing headaches? Maybe not for you/us, but maybe there is some merit to it…

      If it was plastic causing the irritation (through my pants pocket), shouldn’t my credit cards in my wallet cause similar irritation on my ‘wallet side’?

    • john manz says:

      I had a painful burn on my thigh on 3 different days when i worked in the yard for several hours on very hot days. my clothes were wet with perspiration. the battery side of my flip phone wast next to my leg in my left jeans pocket. the burns were about 2 inch diameter and were swollen with red spots all over the area. skin later became dry and peeled like sun burn. i think the battery leaked on my leg.

      • scwifi says:

        That’s quite possible! Does the battery show any signs of physical damage or leaking? In my instance, there was no physical leaking or damage observed on the phone.

  2. Steve says:

    I suspect the phone is getting warm enough to irritate your skin but not hot enough for you to notice. Also the skin is not going to breath as well under a glass or plastic phone compared to being under a leather wallet. Maybe that is related to the irritation.

    • scwifi says:

      I understand that it’s easier to assume that our wireless doesn’t hurt us but at the end of the day, you make a valid point – there is no proof that the phone isn’t heating up. In response, I present to you a thermal image of my wallet and phone. The phone is actually *cooler* than the wallet is!
      Thermal Image of phone and wallet

  3. Brent says:

    It seems to me the experiments to try would be to
    1)carry it around with phone off to see if it’s power is at all related or if it’s just the physical object.

    2)carry it around with it on but with wifi/cellular turned off via something like airplane mode. Then you’d have to identify if it was bluetooth, cellular, and/or wireless by narrowing down those options.

    • scwifi says:

      Brent, I agree that there’s a few good ways to get more data points but for now I’m going to focus on letting the skin heal up a bit before I get cancer.
      1) If it was just the physical object, you’d expect it to change with model of phone. It hasn’t.
      2) That it would, but again – does it matter? Close range, long term exposure is clearly bad for me and I suspect it’s causing damage to more people than just I. Maybe it’s time to admit that there may be merit to some of the exposure claims of the past and not to wholesale disregard them like the industry generally does…

  4. Andy Jobson says:

    Hey Sam,
    Did you see this article about a lady who kept her phone in her Bra and developed a rash ? Perhaps it’s not the wifi or bluetooth but the metallic elements ????

    “A new study suggests the nickel, chromium and cobalt found in common phones made by BlackBerry, Samsung and LG among others, can cause skin irritations.
    Danish and US researchers found at least 37 incidents since 2000 where contact dermatitis was caused by mobile phones.
    For those allergic to metals, symptoms range from dry-itchy patches on the face or ears to redness, blistering, lesions, and sometimes oozing.”


    Best Regards

    • scwifi says:

      Andy, interesting article, but if it was particulate driven, I would expect that to be on my face. My phone has a leather case now (same material as my wallet) and I don’t see any particulate residue on my clothes (it would have to get through my pants pocket and my briefs). Good stab, but I just don’t see it lining up.

    • Just noticed your comment here. I have a Samsung. I now have severe burns from carrying my telephone in my brassiere. Wish I had known beforehand that this could happen.

  5. Hmmmm…

    This post made me think a little. The actual RF Tx power coming off a cell phone is extremely low. Especially the Wi-Fi bits. Perhaps 20X less than the Cellular RF.

    Maybe try a non-smart old-fashioned no-Wi-Fi cell phone and see if it is the cellular or the Wi-Fi that might be causing the irritation.

    Personally, I always keep my phone in my shirt pocket… I’m not going to have to check my chest for irritation marks…

    • scwifi says:

      Agreed Keith! I’d suspect cellular power levels over WiFi/BT and I may switch over to experiment mode once my burns go away. It’s so hard to use a smartphone without BT or WiFi now a days though which I’d have to stomach before moving to an old style phone. 🙂

      • Here we all are recommending different experiments to help test hypotheses… all of which require you to get more burns… sorry about that.

      • scwifi says:

        I totally understand! My knee jerk reaction was ‘there’s no way this is possible, let’s figure out what it isn’t first’. I expected nothing less from an outstanding community!

  6. Nolan H. says:

    I can’t be the only one here to see the hysterical irony am I ?

    Lord Wireless Sam ends up being allergic to wireless. HA !

    I would ask when this started? Is this the first time this has happened?

    Did something change recently? Like a new phone, or was it just the new clothes? Those upper class pants are thinner than your standard engineer jeans, so that might contribute to the phones material being granted easier access to the skin.

    /insert silence of the lamb quote here

    Seems strange that its only happened now. Smart phones like the one you have, must have been in your pocket for years by now.

    • scwifi says:

      Also good questions! It’s been happening for a long time now but it was evenly spread out when my phone was changing pockets regularly. I’d say for the better part of 5 years easy, but it’s like the ‘boiling the frog myth’. It was so gradual at first, then when I changed wardrobe it got super bad. That was about 2 years ago. This is not an overnight phenomenon.

  7. I really hate to say it, but here goes. I was carrying my cellular telephone in my pants pockets. I developed a rash all over my thigh (whichever pocket I was carrying the telephone in). I didn’t associate the rash with the telephone. Standing on my feet all day while I was working, I noticed the telephone was gradually pulling my pants down. I couldn’t let that happen; so, I started carrying my telephone in my brassiere. My sister said that is where she carries her telephone. Many other women I know do the same thing. That was fine UNTIL yesterday, October 15, 2015. I became very uncomfortable in that particular area of my body while I was at work. I don’t wear those darned wired brassieres; so, I knew that wasn’t causing the pain. When I got home, I discovered that I not only had a rash, BUT I now have VERY SEVERE burns in the area. “OUCH!!!” is the least I can say. I have no idea where to put my telephone now. And, how the heck do I cure those burns??? Pain!!! And, I have two more days to work this week before I get a day off work. And, to top it off, I can NOT work bra-less as I work with the public. What to do? What to do?

    • scwifi says:

      It appears that we’re of a rare skin type that is particularly sensitive to whatever our phones are doing to us. I sought medical attention for my burns and without prompting my doctor commented, “gee, those look like radiation burns to me”. I was then prescribed medication that is common for cancer patients that undergo radiation therapy and get burned from it. Mine are slowly getting better, but the FCC SAR limitation clearly exists for a really good reason. Those that exceed it on a regular basis are gambling potential skin-sensitivity issues. I plan to update my original post with more data once I’m completely cured, but it’s been a far longer recovery than I thought was going to be required at first. Please do keep me posted. I’d be interested in hearing what your experience is – especially if you get medical attention.

  8. Phill Avanzato says:

    I am having the same problem – I have a Samsung Galaxy 5 and always carry it in my front right pants pocket. my upper thigh has the same type of burn irritation and is itchy, in fact it looks very similar to the pictures you have posted… the phone does get hot and I have tried to control it with a CPU cooler app but it must be a cumulative effect from the phone.. i always kept it in the same pocket for several years… I guess its time to try keeping it in a different pocket.

    • scwifi says:

      Thanks for sharing! There is clearly something happening to a small number of the population that seems to be more sensitive to whatever is happening. While I’m not one to jump on the EMF exposure bandwagon, I’ve been unsatisfied (as has my burns) with most any other explanation.

      • Phill says:

        Yes… and with all the Samsung Galaxy/Note 7 recall/problems going on makes this all seem even more suspicious…

      • Jamie says:

        I’ve had an irritation “U” shaped on my hind haunch where I’ve been carrying my iPhone for years. Leather case with bus pass and Car. Panthers schedule card.
        I was in nuclear industry for years and I’m semi convinced this is burning associated with EMF. I now carry in hand or backpack.

      • scwifi says:

        Thanks for the note! I’m not one to be an alarmist, but I think there is more to the story about safety of phones than is being let on – at least for a small percentage of the population. I’m personally very fair skinned (caucasian) and am curious if that has anything to do with it.

  9. David P says:

    Curious if the rash went away. I’m having the exact same issue. Itchy reddish are right where the antenna part of my cell phone sits against my leg in my pants pocket.. very weird!!! It’s the only explanation i can think of to explain this little rash in this particular area.


    • scwifi says:

      Mine has not yet gone away despite treatments usually reserved for cancer patients and despite no longer carrying anything in that pocket. I’ve been putting off going to see a specialist, but I suppose I’ll need to do that soon.

  10. Phill Avanzato says:

    3 months later – I’ve made a concentrated effort to keep my Samsung Galaxy S5 out of my front right pocket but occasionally by force of habit i guess find it there… there is only a slight redness and slight amount of itchiness… so I will continue to keep it away as best I can and report in every few months to see if anyone else is having a similar issue! thanks for posting this!

  11. Marla says:

    I’ve been detoxing heavy metals for 18 months & it’s like I’ve turned into a human torch. Wifi sets off severe itching & burning. Not only am I “allergic” to light & warmth but using my computer, iPad & talking on my cell phone set off systemic itching & my hands actually tingle. I have no idea how to treat the severe rash & burns on my hands, my right hand is especially burned. I assume when I get rid of most of the heavy metals this will go away. But how long will that be?! A big plus tho is that my health, my brain & my mental health improve continuously as the metals are released. Today I’m going to figure out how to ditch wifi in my apartment. I’ll use my cell phone as little as possible & get a landline. I hope that helps.

    • scwifi says:

      Well, that certainly is extreme! I wish you well on your journey. I certainly acknowledge that SAR levels are there for a reason but that a small percentage of the population os significantly affected and I think that a lot of professionals write them off a bit too quickly.

  12. Tyler says:

    This is exactly what is happening to me with my s7.
    Wish you would have describe it a bit better for other people to compare. For me I never noticed anything until laying in bed and leg got itchy on thigh in area of where pocket would be and I went to scratch it and was greeted with excruciating pain. There isn’t much redness but it is only where my phone usually sits in pocket and is only thing I can think of that would cause it

  13. Allan says:

    Okay, this post is three years old now, but I’ve experienced the same TWICE in my life. First when I was around 16 and used a Motorokr phone, and these past two months that I’ve been using a Samsung Galaxy J7. I always put my phones in my left pocket and there’s exactly where I get this burning feeling. Will try changing my phone or maybe just putting it somewhere else. What happened to you? Have you improved?

    • scwifi says:

      Thanks for writing! It seems I have done at least semi-permenant damage to my skin. So far the doctors have been unable to make the phone shaped marks disappear entirely. I’m no medical professional of course, but it seems like once you cross over a particular threshold of damage, the skin is perhaps unable to repair itself? I’ve been on meds that they put cancer patients on to treat for radiation burns and all, with only moderate relief of discomfort. I wish you luck! Please let me know how you progress.

  14. Tim S says:

    I believe you. I have the same problem but can one up you. I have a burn in the same pocket area, just below my phone which is always upside down. I also have a major burn on my chest that is in a direct line between my Bluetooth headset receiver and the phone. Better yet, I almost swear I can feel it shocking when I get to sweating hard (I only use it when I run).s I can’t find this on the internet, your post is the closest thing I can find. My Bluetooth headset sound amazing and is so convenient, however, I will Not use it. Side note, anyone want a great deal on a pair of Jaybird?

    • scwifi says:

      Thanks for writing Tim! It seems that there is a subset of the population that’s particularly sensitive to *something* holding phones close to their bodies for an extended period of time. I appreciate you writing!

  15. Tim S says:

    I should add, I’m using a Galaxy 8. It looks like a lot of people commenting here are using Samsung phones also.

  16. Jacques Valiquette says:

    I used to carry my cell in my left front pocket untill I developped a reddish area where the cell is positioned on my upper leg 6 months ago. Today, it itches a lot, wakes me up trough the night and is very tender, I don’t know what to do, so I use my ultrasound unit every morning to a low setting which eases the itching.
    Any suggestions or who to consult would be appreciated as I am POSITIVE it is caused by my cell.

    • scwifi says:

      Hi Jacques, thanks for writing! First and foremost, I’m not a Medical Doctor, so you should take any advice I give you with a grain of salt. 🙂 I would strongly advise you to visit your General Practitioner or a Dermatologist as soon as practical. In my case, I was prescribed a topical ointment that is given to cancer patients that are going through radiation treatment and it’s still not helping much. I’ll be interested to hear any report back on how its going!

  17. Jeff says:

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S9 and I’ve been keeping it in my right pocket for a few months. The Galaxy S9 uses 5G, and drastically increased amount of radiation. After only two months of keeping the phone in my right pocket, my thigh became numb and red and itchy. It got to the point it was irritating me to keep my phone in that pocket, so I switched. After about a month of switching it to the other pocket, my other thigh started to do the same thing. Starting to see improvements by in my thighs by not keeping my phone in my pocket.
    Also, side note. My new Spectrum router also uses 5G for Wifi. The router was kept in my room only a couple feet from my bed. After installing the router, I was having sleep issues. Vivid dreams. Constantly waking up. High pitched ringing tone in my ears. I started unplugging the router before I go to bed, and viola, no more sleep problems! Cell phone radiation has NEVER been properly studied, and 5G effects have hardly been studied at all, however all preliminary studies show nothing but negative effects on the body. States are not even allowed to refuse 5G. We are being poisoned with radiation at unsafe levels, and nobody in Telecom or government will admit it. It’s probably a form of population control.

  18. Vivek Narayan V says:

    Same issue… I used to always have my left pocket reserved for my phone and now I’ve lost hair at that particular portion and developed a rash. Ever since I realised the problem, I stopped keeping phone anywhere close to my body and generally carry it in my hand these days.
    Result: The hair is regrowing, rash is lightening and in 3 months maybe, it will disappear.

    It wasn’t severe, but trust me, had I continued the same, it would’ve gotten much worse. Thank god!

  19. Ron Smith says:

    Same happens to me. Worse when I sweat.

    • scwifi says:

      It seems everyone is afflicted differently (and some lucky enough to not be bothered at all!). I hope you get better soon.

  20. Jason says:

    When I set my phone on my leg when I drive, it blisters my skin just under where my phone is.

  21. Elizabeth Bossert says:

    Currently experiencing the same problem. I carry a phone in each pocket. Yesterday, I was driving for several hours with my business phone in my left pocket and personal phone out of my pocket. Got a painful red rash on the left where the phone sits on my thigh. So, no phone in that pocket today. Had my personal phone in my right pocket and now have the same rash in the same spot on the right thigh.
    I’ve kept my phone in my pocket for nearly 20 years and have never had a problem.

  22. Jackie mader says:

    I have just discovered that a years long debilitating range of symptoms was being caused by a router in my bedroom about four feet away from my feet. My hands have been getting very red and sore with burning pain and it got so bad I could barely dress myself. I could not go in our pool and hated taking showers because it felt like millions of tiny shocks all over. My arm leg and foot closest to the router developed unexplained stabbing pains. Within a day of my husband moving the router I could feel the pain, numbness, tingling shock like stabs literally lift from my body. My hands although still badly burned are slowl6 getting better and all the buzzing feelings I’ve had in my head are gone. Considering my doctors figured I had some rare degenerative-nerve disease, being able to do something so simple that relieves my symptoms within hours seems like a small miracle. Take from this what you wish. I’m sure there must be others who are just as hyper sensitive as I.

    • scwifi says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write – I’d be curious how you’re doing in a few weeks – the technical side of me want’s you to put it back and see if the problems come back, but I understand that no one would want to voluntarily do that. Please do take care and get better soon!

      • Jackie mader says:

        Hi Sam…well you got your wish in a round about way…my pain was going hands were becoming less inflamed and I woke up today with more pain again. I was guide disheartened thinking that I had obviously been wrong and it must have been a placebo effect. Then my husband came home after doing some work and running errands. Our son commented on how well our wifi was working and my husband said that he had bought and plugged in a wifi extender thingy ( my words lol) and had plugged it in last night! Coincidence? As I sit here in pain, typing with burning fingers, I am now totally convinced that it’s the emfs that are causing a lot of my pain. And my husband has turned our house into a very large emf deathray for me!

  23. Jackie mader says:

    *quite disheartened* darn autocorrect!

  24. Denny says:


    I got the same problem.

    I have 3 phones that I’m using.
    But I only get the problem while using my Iphone7.

    I always keep it in my right front pocket and one day my thigh started to feel burned,
    and when I looked I got a red spot right where my phone was,
    the next day I changed sides and kept the phone in my left front pocket, and I got the same burn there too.

    If I keep the phone in my pocket with airplane mode and wifi turned off, then I don’t have any problems with it.
    But if I keep airplane mode turned on but I turn on wifi, then I get the burns again.
    I don’t get them from mobile data tough.

    For me, I only get it when I turn on Wifi and I just get it with this phone,
    no problem with the other phones.

    I don’t understand why I just get it now,
    I never had this problem with my phone before, even when I turned on Wifi, mobile data, and Bluetooth.

    I started to get this problem a week after I installed the last iOS update.

    I even email apple and asked about this, still no response yet, it’s been over a month now.

    I Will let you know if they give me an update or answer.

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