About Your Nickel Allergy   

971B Abalone Niobium Bracelet-8

Do you get a painful rash from the jewelry you wear? If you do, you may have a nickel allergy. In addition to causing a painful rash and a lifelong allergy, nickel is a common allergen that can have various chronic health effects. Everyone can benefit from choosing jewelry that is nickel-free.

Nickel is one of the most common causes of Allergic Contact Dermatitis. It appears in both women and men, and it can occur at any age. In general, the more exposure you have had to nickel, the more likely you are to become allergic.

Causes of nickel allergy vary, but the allergy commonly begins when ears are pierced, possibly at a very young age. The nickel enters the bloodstream through the fresh wound, which is your piercing. The rash itself will not appear until days, months or years later. It can even be difficult to sort out the symptoms of the rash from a possible earring infection. Nickel exposure is also common in many industrial workplaces, and it is present in many everyday items such as cell phones, paper clips, zippers, and more.

Continuing to irritate your allergy will only make it more severe. This is how allergies work. After an early exposure you may get a mild reaction, but each time the exposure is repeated, your reaction gets more intense. This is just the result of antibodies doing their job - to fight off an intruder, which in this case is your jewelry. 

Nickel is frequently used in jewelry because it is strong, shiny, and cheap. It has been used over the years, and is now so entrenched in the industry, it is unlikely that it will ever be completely removed. There are nickel free options in jewelry, but unfortunately it is up to the buyer to become educated and learn what to look for. 

Once you have a nickel allergy, it will be with you for life, and the only way to avoid the rash entirely is to avoid nickel. Wearing jewelry is not quite as optional as people might think, though.  It is part of our social world, and is a part of how we define ourselves in the workplace or among friends. You should know, however, that nickel in jewelry is entirely avoidable.

It is not at all uncommon for people to observe that the rash "spreads" on your body over time. what started as an "earring rash" may appear much later with necklaces or bracelets. Some people eventually become so sensitive to nickel they have to change their diets or choose their cookware carefully.

The source of a nickel allergy can be remarkably difficult to track down. In the beginning, a little itch near your jewelry may not seem especially alarming to you. Even if you decide to set your jewelry aside and identify it as the source of your itch or developing rash, you may never quite know what it was that caused your discomfort. You also may not realize that you are already showing the visible signs of a lifelong allergy. 

I would like to encourage you to wear jewelry again. It's not quite as hard as you think - you just have to know what you’re looking for. Nickel in jewelry is avoidable, and preventing the allergy by avoiding nickel in the first place is the best thing of all. All of the jewelry I make is nickel-free all way through. Now you don't have to be afraid of your own skin. It’s time to celebrate it. 

What Does The CDC Say?

It is not every day that I have a conversation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mike Fay is a Toxicologist with the CDC who was kind enough to answer my e-mails and to give me permission to credit him on my website.

My question was simply about whether nickel is more appropriately classified as a toxin or an allergen, and what the CDC’s stance is on this. I have been interested in the use of the word “toxin” to describe nickel, which in my understanding,  is an entirely different category than “allergen” which is commonly used. Mr. Fay is reassuring that “nickel in jewelry can be considered an allergen, and is not otherwise toxic.” The following is an excerpt from the CDC Toxicology website regarding Nickel Allergy:

“The most common harmful health effect of nickel in humans is an allergic reaction. Approximately 10-20% of the population is sensitive to nickel. People can become sensitive to nickel when jewelry or other things containing it are in direct contact with the skin for a long time. Once a person is sensitized to nickel, further contact with the metal may produce a reaction. The most common reaction is a skin rash at the site of contact. The skin rash may also occur at a site away from the site of contact. Less frequently, some people who are sensitive to nickel have asthma attacks following exposure to nickel. Some sensitized people react when they consume food or water containing nickel or breathe dust containing it.” 

source: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=44.

For myself, I consider all questions open as long as we are thinking, breathing creatures, and am interested in the opinions of various experts on this topic.  I am open to new ways of thinking, and want you to continue your own research as well, since information is always changing, and discoveries are always being made.







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All contents and material on this website are copyrighted by Naturally Nickel-Free unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved.  Disclaimer: None of the information on this or any of my pages is intended to be medical advice. If you suspect that you have a medical condition, such as a nickel allergy, please seek the advice of a medical professional.