Metal hypersensitivity is a disorder of the immune system that affects 10% to 15% of the US population. It’s one of the most common types of skin allergies, commonly attributed to nickel which is used in many of our everyday items such as jewelry, coins, or cell phones.
This kind of allergy is called an “allergic contact dermatitis,” sometimes “eczema.” The rash often becomes evident when you get your ears pierced. In some people, it causes headaches and other problems.
Sweat leaches nickel from many types of metal, especially stainless steel. The nickel is then absorbed by the skin where it causes a rash. Tissue fluids are even more likely to dissolve nickel in jewelry, so an open wound from ear piercing is often a cause.
Plated metals often cause allergies because they’re normally made of base metals like nickel or zinc. When the plating wears off, your skin comes into contact with the metals and causes skin reactions.
Look for hypoallergenic jewelry like the handcrafted beaded earrings by beYOUteous, which are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. When getting piercings, be sure to choose a studio that uses sterile, surgical-grade stainless steel needles.
If you aren’t ready to get rid of your favorite costume earrings, putting a clear coat on the allergy-causing earrings will make them wearable. There is no cure for nickel allergy.