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Jewellery Care

Jewelry Allergies: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions

Jewelry Allergies

Jewelry allergies are a common problem for people who have sensitive skin. They occur when the skin comes in contact with a metal, especially nickel. The allergic reaction makes it difficult to wear metal jewelry such as earrings, watches, necklaces, bracelets, etc. Finding jewelry that doesn’t irritate the skin can be a challenge.

Some people think that they are allergic to precious stones, gold or silver, but this isn’t the case. The truth is, they are allergic to metal alloys (mostly nickel) used in less expensive jewelry. According to Nature, an international weekly science journal, skin rashes caused by contact with nickel is one of the most common allergens in the world.

Let’s go into detail as to the causes, symptoms and solutions of a jewelry allergy.

Causes

A jewelry allergy is the result of an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis, causing irritation when the skin is exposed to a foreign substance (allergen or irritant). Your body’s immune system tries to fight off the impurities present in the jewelry resulting in rashes and itching. Some jewelry items are made up of metallic alloys which may contain admixed nickel that can trigger an allergy.

Jewelry items made of metal alloys is not the only reason for the allergic reaction. Other reasons include friction caused by non-metal components on the jewelry such as surface particles, dirt, soap, etc., bacterial infection at the piercing site, psoriasis and other skin problems.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a jewelry allergy are seen within 24 hours of exposure. If the foreign particle or allergen is removed, then the allergic reactions disappear gradually. The symptoms are noticed around the area of the skin exposed to metal jewelry and may spread to other body parts. The symptoms include rashes, redness, swelling, itching and sometimes blisters. In some case, the skin becomes dry and cracked.

Solutions

  • Purchase high-quality jewelry, instead of inexpensive costume/fashion jewelry made of nickel, copper or brass.
  • Avoid metal alloy (a mixture of two or more metals) jewelry items such as rose gold, stainless steel and white gold.
  • Add plastic covers to earring studs that are made of nickel.
  • Buy jewelry items made from hypoallergenic materials such as 14-Karat gold, titanium, palladium, platinum and argentium sterling silver.
  • Instead of metal, wear cloth, leather or plastic watchbands.
  • If you’re wearing a jewelry item daily and it’s causing skin irritation, then get it plated in a non-allergic metal such as platinum or rhodium.
  • If you’re planning to buy a second-hand piece of jewelry, then get its purity checked with a metal testing kit
  • Be careful before buying body jewelry such as tongue rings and eyebrow jewelry and purchase only those jewelry items that are labeled ‘hypoallergenic’, ‘nickel-free’ or ‘surgical’.

If you’re allergic to jewelry, then it doesn’t mean that you can’t wear any jewelry ever. With some preventative measure and changes in your choice of accessories, you can wear those beautiful and fashionable jewelry items anytime you wish to. Clean your jewelry after every use to avoid infections and buy fine jewelry only from a trusted store to avoid getting cheated out of quality metal.

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