Dermatitis is of different etymologies and types. The most common of these are food and seasonal allergies. However, there are also rare variants of allergies. There are people whose skin have non-standard reactions to contact with metals. Such allergy can occur by contact with a metal buckle from the belt, when wearing gold or silver jewelry, and even when placing a denture. In that case, hypoallergenic jewelry can be a solution.
Jewelry allergy can occur in adults who have long used parts with metals such as nickel and in children who have been in contact with parts made of allergenic material. Although in some cases it can also appear as an allergic condition at birth.
In addition, as heat and sweat can accelerate discomfort, summer is the worst season for those suffering from jewelry allergies.
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What is jewelry allergy?
Metal allergy is a reaction of the body’s hypersensitivity caused by exposure to certain chemical elements contained in metal alloys.
Dermatitis is an allergic reaction to jewelry that causes skin rashes and itching. The disorder is usually a response to nickel, which is used as a filling metal in jewelry. The condition of irritation is typically limited to jewelry that is in contact with the ear, wrist, or neck. Approximately 10% of the population is allergic to nickel in jewelry. Irritation may occur after years of exposure.
An allergic reaction of the body occurs when an area of skin or mucous membranes is in constant contact with metal elements.
Jewelry allergy is a relatively common type of intolerance caused by the entry of ions of metal elements into the human body and their binding to proteins.
Symptoms depend on the type of interaction with the causative substance. Typically, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to metal appear relatively quickly, within a maximum of two days. The main signs are always localized on the skin at the sites of contact. Dermatitis is most commonly reported in the form of redness, itching, and burning.
How do you know when you are allergic to jewelry?
If you are allergic to jewelry, an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) usually begins within 12 to 48 hours after exposure. The reaction can take two to four weeks. Features of contact dermatitis usually occur only in the area that has come in contact with nickel, but it can also occur elsewhere on the body.
You can tell that you have jewelry allergy if you have some of the following symptoms:
- Redness or discoloration of the skin
- Dry spots on the skin, which may resemble burns
- Blisters and fluid leakage in severe cases
What does hypoallergenic mean in jewelry?
The meaning of hypoallergenic does not refer to a specific test it is more of a marketing term that indicates that the jewelry products do not promote sensitivity. Such a label has products that are claimed to be maximally free of ingredients that can irritate the skin and cause allergies.
As for jewelry, hypoallergenic jewelry is most often considered “pure” jewelry that has fewer impurities in its alloy and does not contain nickel. However, despite the many scientifically proven tests that products have undergone, the possibility of developing signs of irritation or sensitivity to a particular ingredient can never be ruled out.
What jewelry is hypoallergenic?
The inclusion of hypoallergenic jewelry means choosing quality metal jewelry of the highest purity. Are you wondering what these materials are for you? Try these hypoallergenic jewelry materials and metals:
- Stainless steel (as long as it does not contain nickel)
- 18k gold
- Sterling silver
Is 925 silver jewelry hypoallergenic?
Silver is one of the metals regarded as precious which also makes 92.5 sterling silver hypoallergenic.
Although pure silver will not cause reactions or allergies, the biggest catch when it comes to silver is that the pure form of the metal is too soft for use in jewelry. Therefore, the only way that silver and other soft metals become jewelry is if they are alloyed. In other words, pure sterling silver necklace, ring, bracelet, or earrings, are non-existent and the alloy additives (especially nickel) may cause an allergy.
Is stainless or surgical steel jewelry hypoallergenic?
Some people will say yes, as most people will not have a reaction to it. However, a lot of people have had itchy ears or a reaction when wearing some stainless piercings. When a piece of jewelry states its made from “Surgical stainless steel” it’s normally trying to reassure you of its safe properties.
There are many grades but the most common is probably 316L and it’s a great choice for jewelry, piercings, and body jewelry due to being very durable, corrosion-resistant and it can be easily polished.
The downside is stainless steel 316 contains 10%-13% nickel, and some people can have a reaction to it, especially when going through the skin. If you have had an allergic reaction to surgical stainless steel, it’s most likely a reaction to the nickel.
Is copper jewelry hypoallergenic?
Copper is a very weak sensitizer as compared with other metal compounds and rarely causes an allergy. However, in a few and selected cases, copper can result in clinically relevant allergic reactions.
Copper is often hypoallergenic, but it is a soft, extra-pliable metal so, same as with silver and other metals, some crafters reinforce it with a little nickel metal alloy, which can cause an allergic reaction.
Is zinc jewelry hypoallergenic?
The zinc alloys are either hypoallergenic or non-hypoallergenic. Depending on is zinc nickel-free and how sensitive you are. Zinc alloys with copper only hardly cause any allergies. However, zinc alloys with nickel are non-hypoallergenic and shouldn’t be used in earrings or other body piercings.
Is brass jewelry hypoallergenic?
No, brass isn’t hypoallergenic and can cause allergic reactions. Brass is made by alloying copper and zinc, but sometimes nickel is included in the alloy so it is not nickel-free. The copper in the brass can turn your skin green, but that isn’t harmful and doesn’t mean you’re having a reaction to the metal.
Is titanium jewelry hypoallergenic?
Titanium alloys do not contain nickel or cobalt, the two elements that people tend to be allergic to. In short, titanium is a hypoallergenic and thus suitable for people with sensitive skin. They can wear it without the fear of it causing irritation or rashes, or even a color change on the skin as is typical of copper and rose gold.
Overall, titanium is very safe to wear even for people who have contact dermatitis.
Is aluminium jewelry hypoallergenic?
Unless you have a fairly rare type of metal allergy, aluminum is a good hypoallergenic choice and it rarely causes jewelry allergy. It does not contain Nickel, which is a pretty common allergen. So if you worry about a nickel allergy, putting on a piece of aluminum jewelry will only result in a beautiful sensation, not an itchy one.
Can I be allergic to gold?
Gold allergy is a common occurrence. However, many people make mistakes about the real causes of this disease. The fact is that allergies are not related to gold itself, but to the additives used in making jewelry alloys.
The causes of allergic reactions lie in the alloy. Therefore, pure gold almost never leads to unwanted disorders of the immune system. It is important to note that the risk of allergy is often associated with nickel, which is usually added to white gold to prevent the deformation of the jewelry.
However, there are other causes of allergies:
Jewelry doesn’t last long. It is extremely important to remove jewelry in contact with household chemicals, and even with ordinary soap and shower gel. This is due to the fact that particles of detergents or hygiene products that can gradually penetrate the pores of the skin and lead to various complaints, enter the decorations.
If you are allergic to classic yellow gold, you can consider almost all the metals that make up jewelry. Choosing jewelry of low quality, the risks of immune system failure become quite high. If the ornament contains a minimum of gold, there are additional health risks. For this reason, it is advisable to choose jewelry made of high-quality gold.
Individual intolerance of individual alloys and metals also turns out to be very important. It should be noted that alloys can be added zinc, copper, silver. If there is an individual intolerance to any metal, it is desirable to leave the jewelry with it.
In most cases, gold allergy symptoms are associated with insufficient quality jewelry. Therefore, it is recommended to choose only high-quality jewelry that will prevent the appearance of allergies.
Can a person be allergic to silver?
Silver is a beautiful, precious metal, which is always relevant and widely used in various industries. Probably everyone is in everyday life and occasionally faced with this metal even if they don’t wear jewelry. Decorations, cutlery, utensils, decorating elements can be found on the list for a long time since the popularity of this metal is high.
Allergies, especially in people prone to this type of reaction, can cause anything. Unfortunately, sterling and oxidized silver is no exception and can cause an allergy.
In recent years, the number of people with problems of this kind has increased significantly. The reason for this is the deterioration in the quality of silverware, which is caused by the poor faith of the manufacturers. In order to save money on the material, more and more alloys are added to the production of the product. These are additional impurities, many times more common than silver itself, which are irritants that the body perceives as an allergen.
Among the alloys used in the production of silver products are zinc, nickel, platinum, copper, lead, and even aluminum.
The most common additional alloy is nickel. Because silver is soft enough, nickel gives the product the desired strength as well as extra shine. Often nickel, along with other additional metals, is a dermatitis allergen.
The cause of irritation can be too long contact of the allergen with the skin, due to which metal ions begin to penetrate through the epidermis into the blood, increasing the level of histamine.
It should be noted that allergies can appear after a while. Accumulation of allergens can occur gradually, with regular wearing of silver supplements.
Does stainless steel jewelry cause allergic reactions?
Stainless steel is hypoallergenic and therefore suitable for people who are allergic to other jewelry. However, it is not true that steel jewelry is suitable for all types of allergic people. They may be less allergic than jewelry made from other metals, but may contain various additives of nickel and sulfur. For highly allergic people, we recommend jewelry made of tungsten and titanium.
What is the best metal for sensitive skins with jewelry allergy?
We already mentioned the best hypoallergenic metals for jewelry. However, some are better than others.
Among the safest metals, we would single out titanium and surgical steel. Titanium is the metal that rarely causes an allergic reaction and is considered the most hypoallergenic metal for piercing, necklace, earrings, stud earrings, rings, etc. Surgical steel, which is more commonly used in jewelry making, is also very safe, but even it can cause an allergic reaction due to the impurities found in it.
Nickel jewelry allergy
Nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, an itchy rash that occurs when your skin touches a normally harmless substance. In addition, Nickel allergy is usually associated with a reaction to wearing earrings and other jewelry.
But nickel can also be found in other everyday items, such as money, zippers, cell phones, and eyeglass frames. Nickel allergy can occur in people of all ages. It usually develops after repeated or prolonged exposure to nickel-containing objects.
Treatment treatments aim to reduce the symptoms of nickel allergy, however, people remain permanently sensitive to nickel and should avoid contact with it. Sometimes it may seem that you are allergic to silver or gold or some other metal, but this is a rarity, such jewelry probably contains a certain percentage of nickel and an allergic reaction occurs as a result.
In any case, it is recommended to do a test to determine the exact cause of the allergic reaction, sometimes an allergic reaction to several substances or to some other substance that is not nickel is possible.
What does nickel jewelry allergy look like?
Nickel allergy looks the same as other jewelry allergies.
If you are allergic to nickel, an allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) usually begins within 12 to 48 hours after exposure. The reaction can take two to four weeks. Features of contact dermatitis usually occur only in the area that has come in contact with nickel, but it can also occur elsewhere on the body.
As we already mentioned, symptoms of nickel allergy include:
- Redness or discoloration of the skin
- Dry spots on the skin, which may resemble burns
- Blisters and fluid leakage in severe cases
How do I know if my jewelry has nickel?
You should search for certified nickel free jewelry. Many products are labeled “Nickel tested”. This means that these products are specially tested for nickel content and are safe for people allergic to nickel. These products contain the slightest trace of nickel (less than 0.00001%), which is why no allergic reactions should occur (they can never be 100% ruled out).
You can also make a nickel allergy test at home with a nickel spot test that can be purchased online. Simply put a drop of the test solution on a cotton swab and rub the metal. If the swab turns pink, nickel is being released.
How to prevent jewelry allergy rash?
To know how to avoid a jewelry allergy, you must first know if you have an allergy and for that you should know some of the possible symptoms and when they usually occur.
In the case of a jewelry allergy, the symptoms can appear within minutes and up to a day after contact with the jewelry and can last for hours or days.
In most cases not wearing jewelry will stop the itching and rash. This is the easiest way to protect against future reactions. The treatment is effective only if you stop any contact with the jewelry. If you happen to be in contact with jewelry, immediately wash the exposed area with soap and water.
Nickel free earrings and necklace probably won’t cause an allergy so make sure you wear jewelry without nickel.
Another solution to prevent jewelry allergy is the use of jewelry shield or nickel guard. Simply brush the transparent jewelry shield onto jewelry and metal accessories to create an invisible shield that protects sensitive skin. One application will last about 2-3 months. Shields sensitive skin from metallic irritation and prevents skin discoloration.
How do you treat an allergic reaction to jewelry?
You don’t have to visit a doctor for the treatment of dermatitis or fake jewelry rash, you can use some household aids for nickel allergy treatment or other metals.
Avoid the cause of jewelry allergy
As we already said, in most cases not wearing jewelry will stop the itching and rash. This is the easiest way to protect against future reactions.
Try hydrocortisone cream for jewelry allergy
Read the instructions and then apply the hydrocortisone cream directly to the damaged area according to the instructions. Most often, milder cases of dermatitis will respond to this treatment. The itching and redness will usually go away after a few days.
Apply a damp, cool compress to the damaged area of jewelry allergy
Such treatment is useful if blisters appear as a cause of jewelry exposure. We recommended to apply a cold compress on the damaged area for 30 minutes 3 times a day. In addition to reducing your itching sensation, the compress will deter you from scratching. With the dressing in place, the blisters that will open will not spread the rash to other parts of the body or to other people.
Visit a dermatologist
If the allergic reaction is severe or does not go away after a few days, you may need to consult a doctor. Only a doctor can determine if jewelry causes allergic dermatitis. In severe and permanent cases, they may prescribe medication for you.
Any substance found in jewelry can cause allergies. However, nickel is the most common cause. Although some metals are hypoallergenic, such as gold and silver, jewelry made from this material is alloyed and often contains nickel.
For instance, if you have gold earrings, a ring, a necklace and you react to it, it is possible that you are allergic to gold, however, it is more likely that nickel is the cause of this allergic reaction.
Therefore, it is best to do a dermatological test and examine which substance is actually causing the reaction.
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Irena is a dentist from Croatia, working extensively in her field, but she also has a high interest in the fields of fitness, nutrition and medicine in general. She has been educating herself about how to lead a healthy lifestyle for years. She seeks to help people adopt healthy habits as well as healthy and positive thinking about life. In her spare time, she hikes, runs, plays saxophone and guitar, and develops her own websites – Salubrius Vita and GoalDigger. Her life motto is: When they expect a lot from you, you do even more.