Jewellery is a beautiful thing. It makes us feel pretty and often has a special meaning attached because of the person we got it from, or even just a special reason we bought it ourselves. It expresses who we are and can change daily with our moods and feelings. But for all the centuries that jewellery has been around for, there have been individuals struggling to wear it. Allergies to metals and jewellery is often misunderstood and left unexplored, but rest assured that if you suffer from this allergy you are still able to wear jewellery if you carefully choose it.
Almost all reactions to jewellery pieces occur because the alloy the piece is crafted from contains nickel. The body and skin does not react to silver or gold, so if you have had a piece that looked like silver or gold and you felt a reaction, it contains nickel. Nickel gets absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin (almost no other metals are), which is why it is nearly the only metal that causes such irritation. Some individuals have resistance or tolerance for it and can wear nickel without any problems, but one in every 7 women develops the allergy. What makes it even harder to spot or understand is that the allergy could occur immediately or within an hour, or it can take years to develop after wearing it. Once the allergy develops, however, it will become a life-long irritation. It is best to avoid jewellery that contains nickel in that case, but it can also be managed if you have a special piece you do not want to give up.
The symptoms of nickel allergy, which is often referred to as Contact Dermatitis, varies greatly between individuals. The first symptom in most cases is itchiness, but redness of the skin, swelling (most often seen when the reaction is to earrings) and dry patches are also common. Blisters can occur if the allergy is severe. Sweat worsens the allergy’s symptoms, so keeping the skin dry and clean will help reduce the reaction. For some individuals this measure is enough to manage the allergy, but if cracking of the skin occurs the piece must be taken off immediately.
If you suffer from this allergy, choosing the right jewellery that will be safe for you is the key. Avoid gold plating and rather find gold filled pieces; gold filled pieces are not pure gold, but differ from gold plating because of the amount of gold applied over the base metal. Gold filled pieces usually have between 50 to 100 times more gold layers on them.
It is tricky to find gold filled pieces, however, and many places might claim that their gold plated pieces will suffice. Because of this, the safest metal to wear for those with allergies would be sterling silver. Other safe metals include copper, platinum and titanium.
If there is that one piece you just can’t do without, try coating it with clear nail polish on top of keeping the skin dry and soap and cream free. This might be a solution for short periods of time, but should not be considered a lasting, effective treatment. For severe cases of reaction always consult a dermatologist for treatment recommendations.
If you need to find safe, good quality pieces that are all nickel free, pop down to IYOS Jewellery at Palmyra Junction in Claremont. We are proud to stock products which are all nickel free for a worry-free, convenient shopping experience.