Nickel Allergy Facts
Why people become sensitive to nickel
Contact allergic dermatitis to nickel may develop at any age. Once this nickel allergy has occurred, it persists for many years, often it will remain for the rest of your life.
Nickel allergy is more common in women, probably because they are more likely to have pierced ears than men. However this is changing.
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.
What happens when nickel comes into skin contact
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.
The allergy is more likely to flare up in areas where more perspiration occurs, such as the stomach when you are sat down for long periods,or beneath a watch.
Nickel allergy is spreading
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. 10 to 12% of the female population and 6% of the male population are estimated to be allergic to nickel.
Problems in Summer
Clothing accessories made of nickel buckles, zippers, buttons and metal clips can cause dermatitis. Nickel-sensitive people can substitute nylon accessories.
Sweating increases dermatitis in nickel-sensitive people. In the summer, items containing nickel can cause an itchy, prickly sensation within 15 to 20 minutes of touching perspiring skin. A rash may appear within a day or two. These same items can be worn for several hours without any symptoms, if perspiration is not present.