JEWELRY AND SKIN ALLERGY

by Shewata Dhanuka

The allergy that occurs by wearing original or artificial jewelry is referred as Nickel dermatitis or Contact dermatitis or Nickel allergy. It is basically a contact allergy. It can happen anytime at any age. Every single human body reacts to different degree with nickel depending upon the tolerance and susceptibility level.

Jewelries are treasured all over the universe. It is but true, that many people cannot wear jewelry inspite of their deep desire to wear it. Jewelry allergy is a common complaint from many people. Few even mention that they are allergic to gold/silver. The main cause of these allergies is the nickel content present in the gold and silver ornaments. Pure gold and silver metal are too soft to be mounted into any form therefore, jeweler mix nickel, zinc and copper into the pure metal to make it little hard enabling to give the desired shape to the metal. Zinc and copper do not harm the skin but skin is always sensitive to nickel. People wearing jewelries are allergic to nickel and not with the jewelry.

Gold itself is reactive and causes allergy but, mostly nickel is the main reason. Gold of any karat would contain nickel like 14K, 18K etc. Less the karat value more shall be the nickel content and so more problems therefore, it is always better to wear high karat gold jewelry. Some people have very sensitive skin thus, as soon as the skin comes in direct contact with nickel it results in allergy. In the same way silver is also mixed with nickel and copper to attain hardness and durability required to make the jewelry items.

Nickel is also used in jewelry made up platinum and white gold. Metal used in artificial jewelry contains nickel too. The platinum and white gold jewelry is quite expensive and beyond the affordability of the common man therefore, cases of allergies to this metal is heard less. Moreover, another reason is platinum and white gold are hardened by palladium that do not cause any allergies. Palladium is more expensive than nickel. Nickel is commonly used for gold and silver jewels as it costs less, gives better hardness and has strong lustrous effect.

The allergy that occurs by wearing original or artificial jewelry is referred as Nickel dermatitis or Contact dermatitis or Nickel allergy. It is basically a contact allergy. It can happen anytime at any age. Every single human body reacts to different degree with nickel depending upon the tolerance and susceptibility level. The allergy is caused when the skin comes in contact with the metal viz. white gold/yellow gold/silver/platinum consisting nickel. Through the pierced nose or ear hole, nickel penetrates inside the bloodstream of the body where the cells react in opposition to the presence of nickel. Once the cells react negatively, every time the skin comes in contact with the jewelry it causes the skin to erupt. As a result body develops allergy. This entire process may happen within few months or even take couple of years. It is different for all.

Another reason for the allergy is sweat. During the sunny days, when jewelry is worn for a longer duration, skin perspires under the jewelry. This perspiration comes in the contact with the jewelry metal, dissolves the nickel present in the metal and form nickel salts. Salt reacts with the skin and leads to the allergy. Women suffer more with this allergy than men. The symptoms of these allergies are
[1] Bleeding.
[2] Pierced hole in ear or nose swells and yellow coloured liquid known as pus comes out.
[3] There is a constant itching and burning sensation around the area where the skin comes in direct contact with the jewelry item. For example – Gold chain in the neck, earrings in the ear etc.
[4] Few people get a blue coloured patch in their finger, which is visible after the ring is removed. And also skin discolouration takes place.
[5] Rashes or patchy red marks appear on the skin under the jewelry.

It is a common practice to pierce nose and ears with a very thin gold wire. As the skin is tender and sensitive, it gets exposed to nickel present in gold and leads to allergy. In order to avoid the pain caused due to metal allergy, stainless steel needle must be used for piercing. And till the time entire healing of the pierced area takes place, only stainless steel jewelry should be worn. Stainless steel also contains nickel but as it is bound tightly, it seldom comes in direct contact with the skin.

Left over traces of soap and water under the jewelry breaks the protective shield of the skin and allows nickel to come into direct contact with the skin. Similarly, sweat of the body is responsible for the jewelry allergies. Earrings and finger rings are most likely to hold water after the bath. This is the reason why; some people experience awful smell in the earrings once it is removed from the ear. Being extra cautious while taking bath or washing hands can avoid these problems. Always ensure to wipe off the soap and water from the body fully.

While doing the household work, hands are washed countless times in a day. It is very obvious that detergent or other cleansing products and water are left under the ring and causes allergy. Mostly every person wears minimum one finger ring. To protect the fingers from the allergies, apply several coats of clear or transparent nail polish at the back of the ring. In same way nail polish can be applied to other jewelry items too. The problem of allergies will be solved.

Few other precautions that can be taken to avoid allergy are – apply talcum powder before wearing the jewelry to prevent the moisture. Do not wear tight earrings or rings or chains, leave little space so that air passes through it. Change the jewelry items more often. Keep the jewelry clean and dry.

People who are highly sensitive to nickel should get their jewelries lacquered, coated or plated with palladium to protect the direct contact of nickel with the bare skin. Dermatologists offer some medical treatments to cure the allergy. These treatments are effective only for short term. After some time irrespective of the treatment the allergy reappears.

Jewelry enhances the beauty and makes the wearer more charming. Unfortunately, few people have to bear pain of becoming beautiful as they suffer from the allergy. But, with these precautions and care the allergy can be avoided and they can continue to look good by wearing the fascinating jewelry items.

Interest Items: