MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We are in constant contact with small amounts of bacteria all day, but our phones are growing them out of control.

Not only are they overloaded with germs, but they are also harboring bacteria — and it could cause major skin issues.

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You can’t live without them. Cell phones have become lifelines for most of us.

“I don’t really know how many hours per day but I would say I’m constantly on my phone talking to people,” said Brian Tomlinson.

But staying in touch gave Tomlinson a nasty case of acne.

“I was actually pretty surprised. As much as you use your phone you never really think about it doing something like that to your face but absolutely, it definitely makes sense that it would,” said Tomlinson.

Sure does, considering most phones are covered with all sorts of stuff — sweat, make-up, anything on your hands and germs from all the places where you put your phone.

One study found they’re contaminated with more bacteria than a toilet.

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“They’re more dangerous than you think,” said dermatologist Christine Stanko from Bryn Mawr Dermatology. “Staph and strep are the two most common. So those bacteria — maybe people have heard of MRSA and they get scared about that.”

Stanko says germs on cell phones are linked to a number of skin problems.

“When someone talks on their cell phones its occluding their face, all that bacteria is getting on to their skin surface,” said Stanko. “And it’s microscopic.”

It’s the kind of disgusting bacteria that’s the primary cause of acne and melanoma that can strike at any age, but can be especially difficult for younger people like 20-year-old Tomlinson.

“Other people see the acne all over your face and even if nobody’s calling you out for it, you know it’s there. Absolutely I would say it’s a self-esteem thing,” said Tomlinson.

Another skin issue related to cell phones? They can trigger allergic reactions. Some people are allergic to nickel used to make cell phones. That causes something called “cell phone rash.”

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Most of the skin issues related to cell phones can be resolved with topical treatments. An anti-bacterial wipe at least once a day is one way to keep your phone clean.