Are your earrings making your earlobes itch or do you notice a rash around your neck after you remove your necklace? You may have a nickel allergy. It is a common skin allergy that is a form of contact dermatitis. Some statistics show that the true number of people with nickel allergy is getting closer to 20% of the population due to the fact that, in the U.S., nickel can be found in everything from coins and cellphones to your jewelry, eyeglass frames, zippers and even jeans studs.
How do you know if you have a nickel allergy? Typically, symptoms are visible in 6 to 24 hours after you are exposed. Symptoms of contact dermatitis will appear directly on the area that was touched by the allergen and includes itching, redness, rash, dry patches and swelling of the skin. Occasionally, blisters may form and leave your skin with crusts and scales. It is important to seek a dermatologist such for dermatitis treatment. Your nickel allergy rash may need more than an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or anti-histamine pill. A dermatologist can prescribe a steroid cream or oral medication to combat your severe dermatitis symptoms and prevent infection.
Once a nickel allergy develops, it often lasts your whole life. Furthermore, if you are allergic to nickel, the more you are exposed, the worse your allergy will become. Since there is no cure for nickel allergy, the best action you can take is to avoid contact with objects containing nickel. If your nickel allergy is severe, you may also need to avoid nickel-containing foods such as chocolate.
Women are most affected by nickel allergies simply because of the jewelry culprit. You should know that according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, locally crafted earrings were more likely to contain excessive levels of nickel as compared to store-bought earrings. The study found that 69% of earrings purchased from local artists contained nickel while only 24% of earrings in chain stores contained the metal.
If you are experiencing contact dermatitis symptoms related to nickel, it is important that you investigate the cause and seek treatment right away. There are several options in nickel-free jewelry to choose from as well as ways to seal or coat nickel jewelry so your skin stays protected.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jodi E. Ganz, Olansky Dermatology Associates