Have you recently bought and worn a piece of jewelry that subsequently caused red marks and itchiness on your skin? Is this the first time that this happened? Don’t worry because you are most likely not allergic to jewelry (in general, that is). This so called jewelry allergy may be explained by a condition called contact allergic dermatitis and we will tell you what causes it here. Yes, you can still wear some of your favorite earrings and necklaces ladies, don’t worry!
Most jewelry allergy is caused by the metal nickel which is used in the manufacture of precious metal alloys. In less expensive jewelry, nickel is often used in the base metal which is then plated with gold or silver. Many people who believe that they are allergic to gold or silver jewelry are actually allergic to nickel, which can occur as a trace element in gold or silver or has been used in the manufacture of gold jewelry to whiten and or strengthen the piece.
You’ll usually see symptoms 12 to 48 hours after you come into contact with nickel. You may notice itching, redness, rash, dry patches, and swelling of the skin but sometimes even blisters appear which may then break, leaving crusts and scales. If left untreated, your skin may become darker, leathery, and cracked. In serious cases, the rash may spread. Sweating can make it worse.
How do you know if a piece of jewelry has nickel in it? By simply looking at a piece of jewelry it is very difficult to determine whether or not it contains nickel. One should assume that all metal jewelry has some amount of nickel in it unless it made of stainless surgical steel, is either 18- or 24 carat gold, is sterling silver, or pure platinum. Maybe the jewelry store you bough the item from will have information so do not be afraid to ask.
The first solution is to immediately stop wearing the piece of jewelry involved. The next step is to see a dermatologist who can perform a skin patch test to confirm the diagnosis. The most important thing you can do is, again, to avoid contact with objects that can cause a reaction. For mild symptoms, a hydrocortisone cream applied on the affected area and oral intake of antihistamine pills may help.