Earring Allergy

What causes nickel allergy?

  • Nickel allergy is the most common of metal allergies and is most frequently to blame for itchy earlobes.
  • Often sensitization begins with the introduction of nickel into the body through piercings, including ear piercing. 
  • Even earrings that are marketed as "hypoallergenic", "nickel-free" and "for sensitive skin" may contain nickel. 
  • Surprisingly, there may be enough nickel in 10K and 14K yellow or white gold to cause nickel allergy symptoms.

What are common nickel allergy symptoms?

  • The most common symptom of nickel allergy is a red rash with mild to intense itching and/or burning, while more severe cases may develop hives, fissures, blisters, or swollen skin.

What is the best treatment for nickel allergy symptoms?

  • There is no cure for nickel allergy, only avoiding the nickel will provide relief from the symptoms.  
  • Your physician, dermatologist, or allergist can confirm that the allergic reaction is caused by nickel and may be able to offer prescriptions or over-the-counter treatments to alleviate the discomfort.
  • However, nickel allergy symptoms will return if contact with the source is resumed.  

How can I avoid nickel?

    • Step one in nickel avoidance is detecting the nickel in metal items.
    • Test your earrings to determine if they contain nickel. Nickel Alert® by Athena Allergy is a fast, accurate, and safe way to test any metal item for nickel. 
    • Nickel allergy is considered a Type IV delayed onset allergy which means the earrings on your ears today may not be the ones that are causing the allergic reaction. Type IV delayed onset allergies may not cause symptoms until 12 to 72 hours after contact with the allergen (nickel).
    • If nickel is detected in earrings, either avoid wearing those earrings or protect your skin from the nickel in the jewelry.
    • Use a barrier protection that has been specifically formulated for those with sensitive skin, do not use ordinary nail polish which may contain formaldehyde, toluene, and/or dibutyl phthalate. 
    • Nickel Guard® is a clinically proven barrier protection that is designed for the nickel allergic population and does not contain those harmful ingredients which may actually cause secondary allergic contact dermatitis (another rash!)  
    • Nickel Guard has been developed to form a strong bond with metal, unlike ordinary nail polish which is pliable and chips easily, thus exposing the nickel to the skin.

Are there products that contain no nickel?

    • An excellent solution for earring nickel rash is to purchase Certified Nickel Free™ or Certified Nickel Safe™ earrings that are guaranteed to never test positive for nickel and to never cause nickel allergy rash.


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