Metal allergy can be apparent in pierced ears or any part of the body that is exposed to metals such as necklaces, watches or other jewelry. When it comes to this form of allergic reaction, it is called as contact dermatitis and triggered by the reaction of the body to impurities present in metal products.
Contact dermatitis can be managed by avoidance of wearing any irksome jewelry and application of localized creams to pacify the inflammation. Individuals who have metal allergy must wear earrings that are labelled as hypoallergenic.
Cause of metal allergy
Unlike with other allergic reactions such as hives or asthma which occur right after exposure to the irritant, contact dermatitis slowly forms and equally slows to vanish. The immune system reacts to the impurities in jewelry and triggers the characteristic rash of contact dermatitis.
The metallic-alloy earrings are known to contain varying amounts of nickel. Take note that nickel can trigger reactions in many individuals and the usual cause of contact dermatitis.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of contact dermatitis due to metal allergy manifest within 2-3 days after being exposed to the metal. When it comes to earrings, the rash occurs around the site of the piercing which is often called earlobe dermatitis.
The affected skin appears elevated, itchy and reddened while small-sized blisters form which drain watery fluid. In severe cases, the skin can become cracked and leathery. Take note that the rash is often worse during the summer season since sweating will allow the irritants to penetrate deep into the skin.
Management of metal allergy
An essential form of treatment for the dermatitis is avoidance of the irritating material. A steroid cream can be used to hasten the recovery. Once the rash perseveres despite these measures, consulting a doctor is needed to determine other substances that might trigger a reaction. This is usually done via skin testing. When the irritating substances are identified, they should be avoided to prevent future episodes.
There are cheap earrings that contain nickel that can trigger reactions among susceptible individuals. Those who have metal allergy specifically to nickel must ensure that they only use jewelry that is labelled as hypoallergenic or nickel-free.
The earrings that are marketed as hypoallergenic have a lower nickel content. On the other hand, some individuals can experience a reaction even if these earrings are used. The jewelry that is made out of titanium and stainless steel are less likely to trigger allergies. The products that are considered the safest are made from gold and silver since these are highly unreactive expect in extremely rare circumstances.