Metal Allergy FAQs
Your questions are answered!
According to a National Library of Medicine (NIH) cited study, titled Metal allergy--a review on exposures, penetration, genetics, prevalence and clinical implications, 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel. With nickel being one of the alloys used in gold and sterling silver jewelry manufacturing, this may explain why most jewelers receive more skin-sensitivity queries from women than from men. In any case, the following FAQs are completely gender-neutral; just remember the following criteria:
- Nickel allergies are the most common type of metal allergy. The majority of people who believe they are allergic to white gold, low karat gold, or sterling silver are only allergic to the nickel in the alloys. Most everyone can withstand trace levels of nickel found in 14k or 10k white, yellow, or rose gold, as well as sterling silver, without exhibiting any symptoms and with no ill effects. For most people with metal allergy, higher karat yellow or rose gold (where the nickel level is much lower), or "rhodium plating" for white gold and silver would be good options. Nickel must be entirely avoided by those who have severe responses to the metal.
- Metal allergies are uncommon, but they can strike at any age. Metal reactions can take hours to days to manifest and might linger for weeks. Symptoms are almost always localized to the site of contact, resembling rashes or eczema. These symptoms usually fade away on their own or with the use of over-the-counter topical treatments.
- Allergies aren't the only cause of skin reactions. Some metals, especially copper and metals containing copper, like bronze, can cause the skin to turn greenish when they come into contact with it. Tarnish on silver may leave a color residue on the skin that will easily wipe or wash away. To avoid skin discoloration, wipe jewelry with a gentle lint-free or tarnish-cleaning cloth and keep items away from water or moisturizers. To prevent tarnishing, most of our sterling silver fashion jewelry is rhodium plated. It is recommended to store jewelry with anti-tarnish products.
- Nickel-Free vs. Hypoallergenic Jewelry: Hypoallergenic essentially indicates something is unlikely to induce an allergic reaction or may create a mild reaction. The term "hypoallergenic" is used in the jewelry industry and other industries with products such as fabrics, cosmetics, as well as surgical stainless steel. Small or trace levels of nickel are present in both stainless and surgical stainless steel, which trigger allergic reactions on rare occasions. In the jewelry industry, it is customary to use the term 'Hypoallergenic' for products having very low nickel content or nickel-free plating. Metals such as platinum, palladium, titanium, tungsten, or cobalt are all nickel-free. Ceramic is a viable solution for people who cannot tolerate metals at all.
It's possible that you aren't always aware of your nickel allergy. Notice if you experience any reaction to zippers on your clothing, coins, or eyeglass frames. If that's the case, then check with your physician for diagnosis and treatment.