Nickel Allergy: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, & Preventive Measures
Nickel allergy occurs to individuals when nickel, a metal found in jewellery, coins, eyeglasses, etc., comes in contact with their skin and causes itchy rashes. This can be cumbersome, and knowing vital information about it is essential to lower panic and start taking precautions beforehand to prevent such allergic reactions. So, delay no further and keep scrolling to learn more about it.
What Are the Symptoms of Nickel Allergy?
The following symptoms of nickel allergy are:
- Bumps or rashes on the skin
- Itchiness on the skin, which may become severe if not treated
- Redness or change in the colour of the skin
- Dry patches on the skin that appears skin is burnt
- Draining of fluid from the skin or blisters in severe cases
Besides, here are the following symptoms when mild rashes become an infection:
- Increased redness on the skin
- Warm feeling over the infected area
- Pus accumulated in the infected area
- Pain in the infected area
- Fast spreading of the rashes
Moreover, nickel allergy may cause respiratory problems in rare cases. Take a look at the symptoms mentioned below:
- Inflammation in the nose
- Runny nose
What Causes Nickel Allergy?
Like any other reaction to allergies, individuals’ immunity system responds to harmful viruses and bacteria. Consequently, the body releases a chemical to eradicate that harmful substance from the body to protect it. The reaction is similar when nickel comes in contact with the body, which causes symptoms like itching or rashes on the skin, known as allergic contact dermatitis. Besides, if you are allergic to nickel jewellery, you may also suffer from symptoms like urticaria or hives as an immediate reaction after coming in contact with nickel.
Healthcare professionals still do not know the accurate cause of nickel allergy. If you suffer from a similar condition, you may have inherited it from your family. However, it is ideal to contact a doctor to acquire more information about its causes.
How to Diagnose and Treat Nickel Allergy?
If you suffer an allergy from artificial jewellery and a doctor finds your allergy as a cause of nickel content in the jewellery, then he or she will conduct a patch test. A doctor applies a small proportion of allergens that contain nickel over a patch and then applies it to your skin. It will be under observation for 48 hours to verify any allergic symptoms. If your skin appears irritated, it indicates that you may suffer from an artificial jewellery allergy or nickel allergy.
There is no permanent cure for nickel allergy. However, the first step to treat nickel allergy is to avoid direct or indirect exposure to nickel. Home remedies such as wet compresses and moisturising lotion or calamine lotion may calm the allergic reaction. However, if home remedies do not help, seek medical assistance immediately.
The doctor may recommend one of the following medicines to reduce the nickel allergy:
- Non-steroidal cream – This includes betamethasone dipropionate and clobetasol. Its long-term application causes skin thinning.
- Corticosteroid cream – This includes tacrolimus. The side-effect of applying this topical cream is a stinging sensation at the application area.
- Oral antihistamines and corticosteroids – Doctors prescribe oral histamines to relieve itching on the skin. However, it may not be effective.
On the other hand, doctors prescribe oral corticosteroids, like prednisone, in a severe allergic reaction or rash that has rapidly spread over a large area. If you are under this medication, you may expect side effects such as elevated blood pressure, mood swings, and weight gain.
Besides, several healthcare professionals may also prescribe phototherapy. In this treatment, your skin will be exposed to a regulated proportion of artificial ultraviolet lights. A doctor may prescribe this treatment if your allergic reactions to nickel do not recover from topical or oral medications. It may take months for this treatment to show its effects on nickel allergy.
How to Prevent Nickel Allergy?
As stated earlier, once your body develops sensitivity to nickel, rashes will appear on your skin, also known as contact dermatitis, whenever your skin comes into contact with the nickel.
However, as “prevention is better than cure,” follow the ways mentioned below to prevent or control allergic reactions to nickel:
- Avoid Wearing Jewellery and Using Products Containing Nickel: Wear jewellery that contains hypoallergenic materials. Purchase jewellery that is free of nickel and contains nickel-free stainless steel, titanium, surgical-grade stainless steel. Surgical-grade stainless steel may have nickel content. However, it is usually hypoallergenic for most individuals. You can also wear jewellery made of 18-Karat gold and sterling silver. In addition, daily-use items like watchbands and eyeglass frames may contain nickel. So use safer substitutes to prevent the nickel allergy on your skin from aggravating.
- Select a Piercing Studio Carefully: Select a piercing studio that uses nickel-free, sterile or surgical-grade stainless steel needles that are sealed in packages. Check whether the part of the piercing gun that is used to pierce is changed before using it on new customers. Assess whether the studio sells hypoallergenic jewellery and offer documents that validate the product for sale is nickel-free.
- Talk to Your Employer if Nickel Is Used in Your Workplace: If you are allergic to nickel and work in an industry where you are frequently or constantly in direct or indirect exposure to the metal, contact the doctor and employer. They can assist you in determining a plan to avoid nickel and prevent nickel allergy.