Not Always A Girl’s Best Friend

People like jewelry — it’s an obsession that is practically based on instinct. People tend to like shiny things and, if done right, jewelry is very attractive no matter what the occasion. However, there are some caveats to be considered when talking about and deciding on the timely use of jewelry. Factors like lifestyle and finances are understandable deterrents to keeping jewelry around, whether in mass quantities or just a few select pieces. On certain occasions, for certain people, there are other potential problems. While an allergy to nickel is considerably minor as far as everyday medical concerns go, it can still get rather annoying if you’re into jewelry. After all, nearly every form of jewelry on the market today has some amount of nickel in it.


Nickel allergies can sometimes appear similar to a mild skin infection, though it is often readily noticeable that the signs disappear with time. The most common sign of the allergy taking effect would be the skin developing a deep red color in the area that had contact with nickel. Some of the surrounding area may also develop some redness. In some cases, the redness can also appear like a rash and may cause itchiness or mild discomfort. In extreme cases, blisters may form on the skin, usually with a lot of moisture or pus. The itchiness can become unbearable, depending on how much nickel was involved and how long the skin was in contact with it. In some instances, the itchiness can also lead to mild inflammation and may render the hands virtually unusable for a short period.


The allergy, sadly, has no known cure and can sometimes randomly occur. Like most allergies, an allergic reaction to nickel is completely random and may appear on someone who has never been allergic to it before. Prolonged exposure is not needed for someone to develop the problem, because even a short amount of contact with nickel can trigger an allergic episode. The allergy is actually fairly common, being considered among the most common causes for allergic attacks outside of seasonal factors. The exact cause of the sensitivity is still unknown, but nickel-based earrings and needles (used for piercings) often cause a reaction faster than anything else.

The skin does not normally react the first time contact is made. In most circumstances, symptoms such as redness may not even appear for two days after the initial contact. Inflammation, particularly rare for this allergy, is often only apparent after nearly a week. There are some instances when the symptoms manifest within a short period, but this is typically the result of prolonged or regular exposure to nickel. Most cases of this occur because the person has a lot of jewelry on their person, or wears a few pieces for prolonged periods. There are exceptions to this, but the previously mentioned situations are considered typical.


Statistically speaking, women are remarkably more likely to develop an allergic reaction to nickel than men are. This has traditionally been attributed to the piercing of the ears, which leaves those areas exposed to nickel for days at a time while the wound heals properly. However, going over the statistics over a period of time shows that the disparity between males with the allergy and females has been decreasing. Whether this is because of the increasing popularity of body piercings and earrings for males is still unknown, but it is considered the most likely cause. As it stands, there are no known biological or physiological factors behind the disparity.