Nickel allergy is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to jewelry, but it may also be produced by contact with such things as brassiere hooks, zippers, or the metal in eyeglass frames.
What causes a nickel allergy?
Like other common contact allergic reactions, a nickel allergy is acquired. It may be initiated by an ear piercing and can develop at any age. It is a faulty mechanism whereby your body believes that the nickel or other metal is causing harm and reacts accordingly.
Once you become allergic to nickel, you’re likely to have the allergy for many years. Some people are highly allergic and may get a rash from even brief contact with nickel-containing metals, while others break out only after a long period of skin contact with nickel.
The condition is especially common in women and often prevents them from wearing jewelry. All jewelry contains nickel; however, there’s less nickel in 14- or 18-karat gold jewelry than in inexpensive costume jewelry. Besides jewelry, nickel can be found in coins, cell phones, keys and tools, among other objects.
Some experts believe that there may be a genetic component to the condition that may make sufferers more susceptible, although that has not been proven conclusively.
What are the treatment options?
Nickel-allergy rashes usually clear up once contact with the metal is stopped and a cortisone medicine is applied to the rash.
Preventing nickel-contact rashes means avoiding skin contact with nickel-containing metals. If you feel you must wear jewelry that has the metal, compromise: wear the jewelry for only short periods of time, applying a cortisone cream to your skin before putting your jewelry on to minimize the reaction.
You can choose nickel-free jewelry which is your best option for avoiding breakouts in the future.
Unfortunately there is no way to desensitize a person with nickel allergy with shots, pills, or any other method. It typically persists for years, although sometimes it gradually becomes less severe.