Jewelry Allergies – Signs and Symptoms

Unfortunately, a large number of people experience allergic reactions to many of the metals that are commonly used in the jewelry industry. This is particularly common where mass produced jewelry items are concerned. But what are the signs and symptoms of an adverse reaction to jewelry, and how do you treat and or prevent these allergies? Here’s what you need to know:

The most common jewelry allergy on the planet is nickel. A whopping fifteen percent of the entire world’s population is in some way allergic to nickel. Nickel is a natural white metal, and it is used very often as a major component to many jewelry metal alloys. According to, “Nickel can be found in many products that touch skin, ranging from earring posts, body jewelry, eyeglass frames, watch bands, button, zippers, and costume jewelry, to basic hair pins.” In order to avoid nickel or nickel plated jewelry, it is important to shop for metals that are “hypoallergenic”. This means to make sure your jewelry purchases are made from pure, high grade metals such as: sterling silver, gold, platinum, stainless steel, or titanium. Please be aware, however, that there is a very small population of people that are allergic to silver as well. Your best best in narrowing down what your allergies are is to have your family dermatologist perform an allergy test on your skin to see if you are susceptible to any common allergies. The great thing about having an allergy test administered is that it not only tells you what types of metals you’re allergic to, it also lets you know if you have any dangerous food or medical allergies.

The most common symptoms of nickel allergies are irritated earlobes from wearing nickel earrings. This is so common because earrings are in such close contact with the skin compared to jewelry items such as necklaces or bracelets, which usually only brush against the skin rather than penetrate it. If you have a nickel allergy, you will most likely experience a red or irritated skin rash, redness, swelling, dryness, and sometimes even dried “crust” around the inner piercing of an earlobe.

Treatment for such allergic reactions is simple and pain free. WebMD suggests the following: “For mild symptoms, a hydrocortisone cream and antihistamine pills you can buy at the drug store may help. For more severe symptoms, you doctor may prescribe a steroid cream, and steroid or antihistamine pills. If your skin is cracked or blistered, you should take off any metal jewelry right away and see your doctor for treatment to prevent infection.”