Nickel is a metal commonly used as a component in making silver jewelry. Unfortunately, some individuals are hypersensitive to this kind of metal and will develop an allergic response when exposed to it. Nickel allergy is the specific term used to describe this kind of allergic reaction. It is mainly caused by the body’s sensitivity to the nickel content in silver jewelry.
This reaction tends to occur at any age and may occur with a familial tendency. Nickel allergy is even considered as the most common type of skin allergy since nickel is widely used in many products including eyeglass frames, coins, jewelry, and zippers.
The earliest sign of jewelry allergy includes an itching or burning sensation on the skin areas directly in contact with the jewelry piece. However, nickel residues may also spread to other areas of the body through touch. The skin becomes reddish in appearance and eventually becomes swollen. These signs and symptoms of nickel allergy may occur within six up to twenty-four hours of exposure to the metal. But this also varies depending on the tolerance level of the person wearing jewelry.
Eventually, blisters develop in the affected area that gives the skin a scaly appearance. When the affected part is the earlobe, it is common to experience odorous drainage from the pierced site and in some cases, the part may also bleed.
Prevention and Treatment
Up to the present, there is no established treatment for curing nickel allergy. Treatments for this condition are focused on reducing the severity of silver jewelry allergy signs and symptoms. Treatment measures are generally limited to prescription and non- prescription antihistamine.
Other measures that were proven effective in reducing the severity of the allergic response also includes applying cold compress over the affected area to reduce itching, redness, and swelling. Applying a topical cream on the affected part also helps relieve the condition. In severe cases where the allergic reaction is accompanied by a bacterial infection, an antibacterial medication is prescribed by dermatologists.
If you are overly hypersensitive to nickel, it is highly important that you avoid products containing nickel as well as foods that have high nickel contents. Foods that are high in nickel include beans, shellfish, salmon, canned spaghetti, broccoli, prunes, lettuce, oats, nuts, grains, chocolate, tomato, and soy powder.
Using jewelry made from gold, sterling silver or copper are also wise options if you want to avoid nickel allergies. Furthermore, gold plating and gold-filled jewelry pieces will also help avoid nickel reactions since the skin does not come in direct contact with the nickel component. But it is advised to reapply the gold plating regularly since it tends to fade over time more easily.