How To Prevent Jewelry Allergy?
Do you experience redness, swelling, blisters with discharge on skin whenever you wear a piece of jewelry. If that is the case, then you may be suffering from contact dermatitis due to jewelry allergy. Allergies affect as many as 40 to 50 million Americans. Atopic dermatitis (a skin condition seen in the said allergy) affects 10 to 20% children and 1 to 3% adults.
Most of the jewelry allergy is caused by the metal nickel. Nickel is used as an alloy with several metals which can put an individual at risk of allergies. Chrome and cobalt are other metals which can cause allergies too. What exactly is jewelry allergy, the symptoms, treatment and preventive measures are discussed in the following article.
Cause of Jewelry Allergy
Jewelry allergy is caused by nickel in the jewelry. Therefore, what you are allergic to actually is the nickel in the jewelry. This is referred also as nickel allergy, contact dermatitis or nickel dermatitis. Jewelry allergy is a so called contact allergy. This means that you experience symptoms when being in contact with the substance.
Why does jewelry contain nickel?
Jewelry if often made from gold or silver. Then why is nickel needed? The way jewelry making works is that nickel is mixed into the other metal in the jewelry which might be gold or silver. This will make the jewel harder and easier to make keep its shape.
The human skin is always sensitive to nickel to some degree. Allergy occurs when this sensitivity causes a reaction in the skin. Jewelry does not always have to contain nickel. Copper can also be used to make the metal harder. This will not cause allergic symptoms. Some people can have an allergy to gold or silver as well. This means that no jewelry made from gold or silver should be used because of allergic reactions.
What is the mechanism of jewelry allergy?
It is caused when the body’s immune system reacts to certain metals. Wet contact with the metal as in water, sweat or perfume causes the metal ions to react with the skin and produce salts. The body reacts to this by producing antibodies known as IgE antibodies. These antibodies causes the body to produce a substance called histamine from the mast cells of the skin, pharynx and gut. Histamine causes the adverse reactions seen on the skin.
Symptoms of the Allergy
When you suffer from jewelry allergy you might find some of these symptoms when you come into contact with the metal
• Skin discoloration
• Broken skin from scratching
• Pus or liquid discharge from blisters
Contact a dermatologist so that the allergic reaction is diagnosed and treated correctly. Before taking any treatment, it is good to have an accurate diagnosis.
It is important to get an allergy test done when one is experiencing such reactions. A skin prick test or a patch test where the allergen is introduced into the skin is done. Any adverse reaction on the skin confirms the diagnosis. It is important to single out the metal in the jewelry that is causing the allergy. Sometimes people suspect they are allergic to a particular metal where in realty they are allergic to one of the alloys used in it. Gold is relatively hypoallergenic but many people develop allergies to it because nickel is used as an alloy with it.
Ways to Treat Jewelry Allergies
• Use earring sleeves and protective coatings so as to keep jewelry away from touching the skin.
• Consult a dermatologist to get treated from contact dermatitis that is usually caused by jewelry allergies. Mostly topical corticosteroids are prescribed as they help in reducing inflammation.
• If any infection arises from allergic reaction, then antibiotics help to treat the condition.
• Avoid scratching the itchy areas at the site of jewelry contact. Try to resist the temptation to scratch. Scratching can cause skin breakage and therefore allows the bacteria to enter into the affected skin. This can lead to infections which spread to surrounding skin and tissues.
• Make sure you wear solid gold, 925 sterling silver jewelry and stainless steel as this kind of jewelry does not contain nickel content.
• Use high quality 18 K gold studs or stainless steel for ear piercing as this can reduce the risk of allergic reactions. Before you wear any earring, allow the skin to get cured completely. If you find any allergic reaction, discontinue wearing the jewelry.
How to Prevent Jewelry Allergy?
Identify when you are coming into contact with an allergen. You need to know exactly what is causing your allergy. Therefore, find out when and in what part of your body the allergy occurs so that you will know what is the cause. When you touch the metal that is causing your allergy your skin absorbs the allergen and it gets in your bloodstream. Then your body will try to fight it causing the symptoms.
Control sweating – If you are sweating in the part of the body that is in contact with the metal it is easier for the nickel in it to dissolve and got onto your skin. When you perspire, you are more likely to absorb the nickel and get allergy symptoms. Therefore, keep areas where jewelry is worn dry and clean.
Be careful with soap – When you use soap you are breaching the protective barrier of the skin. This will better enable the nickel in the metal to be absorbed. Therefore, do not use soap in the area you are wearing jewelry.
Wear nickel free jewelry – Nickel is used in jewelry to make it durable. Try using jewelry, which is hardened with copper, titanium or platinum.
If these remedies for jewelry allergy do not work you should consult a physician. With severe cases of allergy you need to avoid the metals causing the allergy. This is sometimes the only way to fully be free of symptoms.