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About nickel allergy

Contact allergic dermatitis to nickel may develop at any age. Once this nickel allergy has occurred, it persists for many years, and often for life. Unfortunately, there is no known cure at this time.

Nobody really knows the cause for such an allergy, but it can develop in people of all ages and at any time. You could be exposed once, several times, or have prolonged exposure before actually becoming sensitive to nickel.

The most common cause of nickel allergy...

Nickel allergy is more common in women, probably because they are more likely to have pierced ears than men. However this is situation is changing. Allergy to nickel is a phenomenon which has assumed growing importance in recent years, largely because of the introduction of cheap fancy jewellery in which the underlying metal layer consists of nickel.

Approximately 10-12% of women and 6% of the men are estimated to be allergic to nickel

The degree of allergy varies. Some people develop dermatitis (also called eczema)
from even brief contact with nickel-containing items, while others break out only
after many years of skin contact with nickel.

How does nickel cause a reaction?

In fact the allergy is not caused by nickel itself but by the nickel salts which are formed under the effect of perspiration in contact with the piece of jewellery piece or watch. This phenomenon is always accompanied by corrosion of the object.

Some people develop intermittent or persistent eczema on their hands and feet. It is usually a blistering type of eczema, known as pompholyx. Sometimes it is due to contact with metal items containing nickel, but often there is no obvious reason for it.

Why some metals contain nickel, yet are safe to wear

Some metals such as stainless steel, surgical steel or silver contain nickel yet do not leak nickel ions onto the skin, They therefore will pass the nickel testing process, and are safe to wear.

For more information about nickel release and the law, please refer to EU Guidelines page.