Can You Be Allergic to Jewelry?
Imagine your hubby gives you a beautiful golden ring for your anniversary. Or perhaps you recently inherited a priceless family heirloom. Overwhelmed with joy, you wear it non-stop and flash it to all your friends and colleagues. But as you continue to wear your prized piece, you begin to notice a small rash develop on your ring finger. At first, it’s a slight discoloration; but soon it evolves into severe itching and a burning sensation.
Unfortunately, this skin breakout results from an allergic reaction to the metals within your jewelry. If you experience allergic reactions to some of your jewelry, it is important to know why and how you can solve the problem.
Why Does My Jewelry Give Me A Rash?
Jewelry allergies affect nearly 10% of the population, making it one of the most common causes of allergic skin dermatitis. Lower grade jewelry induces rashes because it contains a significant amount of nickel. About 1 in 8 people worldwide have a nickel allergy. Since pure gold and silver are too soft for jewelry, jewelers mix in nickel, zinc, and copper to give jewelry desirable characteristics. While some people do have an allergy to gold, nickel is often the main culprit of jewelry rashes.
A nickel allergy differs among people. Some people can comfortably wear jewelry with nickel while others experience intense breakouts. Your allergies can also change over time, which means that you may not be able to wear your jewelry when you’re older.
Other factors can affect the severity of your allergy. For instance, perspiration can worsen the situation. When you sweat, it reacts with the nickel present in jewelry, thereby slowly dissolving it. This creates a compound, which produces strong skin reactions if you have a nickel allergy.
Meanwhile, fresh piercings are prone to allergic reactions when nickel comes in contact with open wounds. If you recently had a piercing, use stainless steel instead of gold until your wound completely heals.
Finally be wary of residual soap and water, especially if you shower with your jewelry. Water and soap wash away the protective oils on your skin, allowing nickel to come into direct contact. This can result in a severe allergic reaction. Be sure to remove your jewelry before showering and while washing your hands.
Treatments for Jewelry Rashes
Treatment may not be necessary depending on the severity of the allergic reaction. In more severe instances, some treatments include:
- Benadryl ointment: You can apply these creams up to four times a day to reduce itching. You can also take Benadryl orally to reduce itching.
- Steroid cream: A dermatologist may recommend applying a steroid cream to reduce skin inflammation.
- Apply a baking soda and water mixture: When mixed together, water and baking soda create a paste, which can soothe irritation caused by allergic contact dermatitis. Furthermore, the baking soda can help reduce itching.
- Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines may help reduce rashes, itching, and hives.
How to Prevent Jewelry Rashes
Having a jewelry allergy does not mean you have to stop accessorizing with your favorite rings and earrings. It helps to determine the metal causing your allergy. Be sure to try jewelry made from different metals to locate the culprit. Finally, remember that jewelry allergies will often clear up in a few weeks once you avoid the allergen-causing metal. For more information about jewelry allergies, contact Short Hills Dermatology today!