Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Allergies from Jewellery ( Nickel Allergy)

A lot of people develop rashes if they wear a certain kind of jewellery. I spent my entire life attributing my inability to wear silver earrings to an allergy. However, I can get away with wearing rings and bracelets made of silver. Recently, I started having seconds thoughts about the reason behind my allergy to silver and I stumbled upon the concept of Nickel Allergy.

As some of you might know, metals like gold and silver are mixed with other metals like Zinc, Copper and Nickel in order to make jewellery. Hence, 24-Carat gold is the purest while 18-Carat gold has 18 parts of gold and 6 parts of another metal. If your jewellery contains Nickel, it is likely to cause an allergic reaction. This reaction is called Nickel Dermatitis. The intensity of reaction differs from person to person on the basis of their tolerance.

If you are wearing heavy jewellery, specially in hot and humid conditions, rashes might appear because of the sweat getting trapped in the pores. Another possibility is that sweat comes in contact with the nickel in the jewellery and dissolves it in order to form salts of nickel; which end up causing the rash.

Some ways to prevent an allergic reaction:

  • Before wearing any jewellery, make sure the area is completely dry, specially in case of fingers and ears.If you are wearing heavy jewellery, try to keep the skin covered by jewellery dry.
  • Apply clear polish on the surface of the jewellery which will be in contact with skin. You will have to re-apply it every once in a while.

If you have an allergic reaction from nickel, taking antihistamines will help. Application of hydrocortisone creams will help in reducing the rashes, but because of the side-effects involved, care should be taken.

The ideal way to prevent an allergic reaction would be buying jewellery which doesn't contain nickel.For example- Sterling Silver contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal, usually copper.