Reducing Allergic Reactions to Metals

Allergic contact dermatitis to the skin caused by some metals is quite commonplace and is often the result of wearing costume jewelry containing nickel; it is especially noted as a problem for women, although it is increasingly been noted in men as well. Cobalt and chromate are also commonplace allergy-inducing metals. Allergic reactions to metals such as nickel can start at any age and may be short-term, or persist for life.
1. Look for the symptoms of a reaction to metal. These will likely include a skin rash, or some other reaction on your skin where the metal has made contact. Blisters and other damage can also occur. If there are blisters present, it may be a type of eczema, known as pompholyx.
2. Get your condition diagnosed by a qualified health professional. Although you might suspect that you are having allergic reactions in response to wearing or touching metallic items, it is important to have your doctor or other health professional confirm your concerns. The doctor can take a skin patch test to test reactions.
3. Avoid wearing costume jewelry unless you know its metallic content. Since a lot of costume jewelry contains nickel, it will likely aggravate your condition. Prefer pure elements rather than amalgams of metals such as gold and silver. Also note that few people have recorded allergic reactions to platinum or titanium.
4. Avoid body piercing unless you are one hundred percent certain of the content of the metal being used.
5. Check to see if you have workplace exposure to metals that are triggering your allergic reaction. If so, find out how the workplace can put practices in place that reduce your exposure.
6. Consider other possible triggers for metallic allergies. Nickel is other products, not just the most obvious. It can be found in washing detergent, canned food, chocolate, tea, wheat, and legumes. For some people, loose change can trigger a reaction. A low-nickel diet is an unrealistic option for avoiding a reaction to nickel, as nickel is in most food but avoiding canned foods and chocolate can help.
Look around your home and work and try to avoid directly touching such items as:
  • Clothing zippers, hooks and metallic buttons etc.
  • Metallic holders around makeup items
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Stationery
  • Computer components
  • Keys
  • Catches on bags, belts etc.
  • Sewing items
  • Tools
7. Wear barrier items. Use gloves, a cloth, oven mitt or some other barrier between your skin and the metallic object when handling them. Consider replacing items that can be replaced, such as wooden spoons for metallic ones, a synthetic watch for a metallic amalgam one (or pure gold if you can afford it!), pens with plastic instead of metallic outer shells etc.