Being allergic to jewelry is not a rare phenomenon. A surprising number of people have or develop them over time, even after a prolonged period of wearing jewels. However, many people who wear them should realize that it is neither the stones (gemstones, diamonds, pearls, etc.) nor the precious metals themselves that set off an allergic reaction.
Jewelry allergy is how dermatologists and experts in precious metals describe sensitivity to certain other metals mixed in with gold, platinum, or silver.
Should you find yourself suddenly itching or developing what is unmistakeably an allergic reaction to jewelry, here are some tips to address the problem.
Observe any signs of swelling, itching, or skin disorders
One of the most common instances of jewelry allergy is a sudden swelling of the earlobes due to earrings which may have nickel or cobalt in them. In this case, it is easy enough to pinpoint the culprit, as removing the earrings can offer instant relief from the discomfort and allow a suitable period of observation if the allergy goes away. However, some patients have reported an unpleasant smell and substance oozing from the earring holes even with the jewelry taken off.
Non-invasive jewelry can also cause allergies. Bangles, rings, and necklaces have been reported to cause rashes, a burning sensation, or swelling on the areas of skin they touch, especially after a particularly sweaty day. Once you notice that this is recurring thing, it is best to avoid wearing jewelry for the time being.
Get tested for the alloy you may be allergic to
If you aren’t sure about the alloys mixed with the precious metal in your jewelry, don’t hesitate to consult a trusted jeweler about it. Nickel is perhaps the most common alloy that causes an allergic reaction in many people, though cobalt is also acknowledged. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology has reported a sharp increase in nickel allergies with the popularity of body piercing.
A simple patch test can determine if you have nickel or cobalt allergy. What a dermatologist does is put a hypoallergenic tape applied with small quantities of the suspected allergens on the skin of your upper back. A 48-hour observation will reveal if you are indeed allergic, and treatment will be then recommended.
Follow doctor’s advice on treatment
Once the allergy is determined and verified, you should follow your doctor’s advice strictly to avoid the allergic reaction from recurring and getting infected. The unfortunate thing about developing a nickel allergy is that it is almost always a permanent thing. It is wise and practical to buy nickel or cobalt-free jewelry in the future.
A dermatologist can prescribe a corticosteroid ointment to treat the affected area and prevent it from blistering and cracking, but the best recourse is to minimize the use of the offending jewelry, or avoid wearing it altogether.
Others recommend coating the precious metal and settings with a clear nail polish so as to protect the skin, but doing this can ruin the polished look and feel of the jewelry.
Guest Author : Sharon Sussman is an expert jeweler and Director of Products at Brilliance, a jewelry company which specializes in GIA diamonds and gemstone engagement rings. She is also a frequent guest blogger on sites such as LivinLargeNYC.com, where her article on “The Dazzling Trend of Diamond Encrusted Objects” can be seen.