Nickel allergy and the big day – Nickel Allergy Information News and Solutions
Proms, graduations, weddings, and Mother’s Day-what do they all have in common? Beautiful jewelry and nickel allergy!
If you ever heard the phase “I can’t wear cheap jewelry because I get a rash” that person probably has nickel allergy. A rash develops after contact with metal containing nickel and may have the following characteristic(s): redness, itching, swelling, hives, and/or cracks. The most common sites for nickel allergy are the earlobes, neck and wrist where metal touches the skin. In children, one of the most common signs of nickel allergy is a rash on the central abdomen from snaps, buttons, jean studs and belt buckles.
Nickel allergy is the most common cause of contact dermatitis in the industrial world, particularly affecting females. 36% of girls under the age of 18 years are nickel allergic.*During the spring and summer, special events like the prom, weddings, graduation and Mother’s Day lend themselves to purchasing new jewelry for the big event. What should you do if you are nickel allergic?
First, know that nickel is frequently used in metal and metal plated objects including gold because it is inexpensive, durable and lustrous.
Second, there are no federal standards of definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic” or nickel free. Nickel free may mean that only the top plating is nickel free, but the base metal contains nickel. Eventually, the plating will wear thin and cause a reaction.
When just the perfect necklace or earrings are found for the special day take these simple steps to ensure there are no ugly and uncomfortable rashes for the event.
- The key to avoiding nickel is to identify it BEFORE your skin does. All metal items suspected of containing nickel may be EASILY tested with a dimethylglyoxime test called Nickel Alert. Within seconds, Nickel Alert will detect even trace amounts of nickel.
- If nickel is detected, avoid generic nail polishes to coat the metal; they often contain toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate which can lead to further sensitization for nickel allergic individuals. A safe alternative is Nickel Guard. Nickel Guard is a clinically proven clear coating that successfully prevents exposure to nickel. It allows an individual to wear any type of jewelry of metal without triggering a reaction.
*Kornick R, Zug KA. Nickel. Dermatitis 2008; 19:3-8
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