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What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Nickel?

Rashes may be the result of an allergic reaction.
The nickel in earrings can cause an allergic reaction.
Most costume jewelry is made from a metal blend that includes nickel.
Nickel earrings.
Article Details
  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 04 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Symptoms of an allergic reaction to nickel include the development of a rash, itching, and in some cases fluid-filled blisters. People who experience an allergic reaction to nickel may also notice general skin irritation, swelling, as well as the development of dry skin patches. These symptoms often occur on areas of the skin where the sufferer wears jewelry, as nickel is a commonly used material in many different types of jewelry. Allergy symptoms can also be triggered by an individual touching nickel and then touching his eyes or other body parts. While an allergic reaction to nickel can typically can be resolved with over-the-counter medications, there is always the potential for infection, which requires prompt medical attention.

Nickel allergies are relatively common, and once a person becomes allergic to nickel, he or she typically will remain so for the rest of his or her life. People who are likely to develop an allergic reaction to nickel are those who work with metals or who wear jewelry containing nickel on a regular basis. Nickel is a very commonly used alloy in jewelry-making and is often blended with other metals to produce various types of fashion and costume jewelry. People who frequently wear jewelry, including body piercings, can develop an allergic reaction to nickel over time.

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The symptoms of an allergic reaction to nickel may not appear immediately after contact with nickel. Instead, these symptoms may arise anywhere between 12 and 48 hours after exposure. These symptoms may be mild and include a red rash or irritation. Some people find, however, that the itching becomes severe and that blisters may develop. These blisters may also ooze fluid. The skin may become vulnerable to infection at this point. If an individual has not yet been diagnosed with an allergic reaction to nickel, he or she should see a physician to verify the cause of the allergy and to receive treatment, which may include taking prescription or over-the-counter oral antihistamines and applying topical creams.

Preventing an allergic reaction to metal is typically a matter of identifying the metals to which a person is allergic and avoiding contact with these metals. It is particularly important for those with an allergic reaction to nickel to be very cautious about wearing jewelry. These individuals should purchase their jewelry from reputable sources that can provide information about the composition of the metals used to make the jewelry. Some jewelry manufacturers specialize in selling jewelry that does not contain nickel or other metals that are common allergens.

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