nickel jewelry
Rashes and other Skin Problems (dermatitis, Eczema, rashes)
Skin Health

How to Manage Nickel Allergy

One of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis is nickel. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), more than 18 percent of people in North America are allergic to nickel, including 11 million children in the U.S.

Although one solution to a nickel allergy is obvious – avoid objects containing nickel – that’s not as easy as it sounds. The AAD says that nickel is present in many household items.

To avoid exposure and reduce symptoms, the AAD recommends that you:

Choose jewelry carefully. The AAD says that earrings, earring backs and watches are some of the biggest culprits. But, they emphasize, necklaces, rings and bracelets containing nickel can also trigger symptoms. They suggest wearing only jewelry that is hypoallergenic, or made from metals such as surgical-grade stainless steel, 18-, 22-, or 24-karat yellow gold, pure sterling silver, or platinum. As for watchbands, they say, choose leather, cloth or plastic.

Check your clothing. Nickel is commonly found in belt buckles, bra hooks, and metal buttons, zippers and snaps. If your clothing has these, the AAD recommends replacing them with ones that are plastic or plastic-coated. You can also create a barrier between these items and your skin by coating the items with clear nail polish. But, the AAD experts say, the nail polish will need to be re-applied often.

Cover electronics. According to recent reports, the AAD says, some electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, and tablets, may contain nickel. Always use a protective cover on your electronic devices.

Substitute household objects containing nickel with objects made of other materials. The AAD suggests replacing items with nickel in favor of these: brass keys, titanium-coated or stainless steel razors, pots and pans with silicone handles, and titanium or plastic eyeglass frames.

Avoid foods containing nickel. The AAD says that foods high in nickel include soy products—such as soybeans, soy sauce, and tofu—licorice, buckwheat, cocoa powder, clams, cashews, and figs.

Rashes caused by a nickel allergy are not life-threatening, but they can be uncomfortable. If you think you have an allergy, or if you have a rash that blisters, becomes infected, or comes and goes, see a board-certified dermatologist for the proper diagnosis.

For more information on skin issues, visit the AAD’s website. Click here.

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