Nickel allergy dermatitis can develop at any age and may persist for years or never subside. Nickel allergy tends to be most common in females because of the increased likelihood of having pierced ears.
It is estimated that 10 percent to 12 percent of females and 6 percent of males have a nickel allergy. The allergy is not caused by the actual nickel, but rather by salts formed by the nickel and the effect of perspiration coming in contact with nickel containing jewelry. This is accompanied by the corrosion of the jewelry, watch or other nickel containing item.
Some sufferers of nickel allergy may develop dermatitis or eczema even after brief contact with a nickel containing object, while with others, it may take years for the allergy to develop. Symptoms of nickel allergy may include redness, itching, soreness, rash or blistering. With earrings, seeping and oozing may come from the areas that have come into contact with the nickel. Those allergic to eyeglass frames may experience flaky skin or blistering where the frames come into contact with the skin.
Jewelry containing 9-carat gold or white gold will contain some nickel. Jewelry with a higher gold content should be safe to wear for nickel allergy sufferers and certain other hypoallergenic types. Look for “nickel free” on the labels of any costume jewelry you might purchase. Wearing plastic earring posts as opposed to metal can also help.
Take precautions in selecting jewelry and avoid nickel containing items. Also, if you handle money frequently in your job and have a nickel allergy, you may want to consider wearing gloves when working. Razors are also a source for nickel, so take care to choose razors that won’t irritate your skin.
If you develop a nickel allergy from something you already own, you should stop wearing it or you will continue to experience symptoms. Keep your skin free from nickel containing items so it has a chance to heal.