You’ve had your eye on a necklace forever and you finally take it home and wear it all day. Then 24 to 48 hours later you end up with an itchy red rash right where the necklace lies. What happened?
Nickel allergies can happen to anyone. Sometimes they happen relatively quickly, like in the necklace example. Sometimes they take longer to develop, even up to a couple of months. The official term for that annoying red rash is Contact Dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis will typically look like itching, redness, swelling of the skin and dry patches. They may crust and have scales. Contact Dermatitis is treatable and is not serious, despite what it may look like
To be sure it is nickel causing the rash your doctor might place patches on your upper back that contains small amounts of nickel. If you have a reaction, you can rest assured that nickel is the culprit. Although this is not always necessary.
So you might be wondering, what happened? Basically while you saw the necklace as a beautiful piece of art, your body saw it as a harmful substance. Usually our bodies are pretty good at knowing what is harmful and what is harmless. But occasionally our bodies can get confused. It attacks the necklace and we are stuck with that red itchy rash. And while we can be glad our bodies have our backs when it comes to attacking dangerous things, when it comes to jewelry, it’s just annoying.
Something you might not want to hear is that once you develop a nickel allergy you have it for life. But there are other metals you can try, so you don’t have to throw out your entire box of necklaces. Stainless steel, gold, sterling silver, and platinum are all great choices if you suffer from nickel allergies
It should be noted that nickel can be in far more than just necklaces. It can be in the zipper of your pants, the fastener to your bra, utensils, coins, and other everyday objects. So if you have a nickel allergy, research everything nickel can be in and stay away from things that might cause a reaction.
You might wonder if you can have an allergic reaction to gold or silver. Fear not, it is usually the nickel mixed in with these metals that causes the reaction. Nickel is the most common contact allergies. So as long as you make sure the ring or necklace you want to wear is nickel free you shouldn’t have a problem.
So nickel allergies are annoying, but they are completely manageable as long as you are careful. If you have any further questions about allergic reactions, please schedule an appointment with our expert GIA Gemologists. Call us today at 619-223-2151.