Symptoms, tests and treatment of nickel allergies



What is a nickel allergy?


Nickel is a silver colored metal found naturally in the environment. It is often mixed with other metals to make several items, including:



  • jewelry

  • coins

  • keys

  • cell phones

  • glasses frames

  • paper clips

  • feathers

  • braces

  • Stainless steel kitchen equipment and eating utensils.

  • Clothing closures, such as zippers, snap buttons and belt buckles


There are also small amounts of nickel in many foods, including certain grains, fruits and vegetables.


A nickel allergy is the body's adverse immune response when someone comes into contact with a product that contains nickel. Normally, the immune system defends the body against harmful substances, such as viruses and bacteria, to prevent diseases. But if you have an allergy to nickel, your immune system confuses nickel with a dangerous intruder.


In response to this "intruder", the immune system begins to produce chemicals to fight against the substance, causing an allergic reaction.


An allergic reaction to nickel is one of the most common causes of an itchy rash. It can also cause other changes in the skin, such as redness and blisters.


Nickel allergies are increasing in the United States and can develop at any age. They are more common in women and girls than in men and women. In the United States, about 36 percent of women under the age of 18 are allergic to nickel.


Once it has developed, it is unlikely that the nickel allergy will disappear. The only way to treat a nickel allergy is to avoid all items and foods that contain nickel.


What are the symptoms of a nickel allergy?


People with nickel allergy usually begin to develop a skin reaction 12 to 48 hours after coming in contact with a nickel-containing element. Symptoms of a nickel allergy include:







  • skin rash or bumps





  • Redness or other changes in skin color.

  • Dry patches on the skin that look like a burn

  • Itch





  • blisters (in very serious cases)


Nickel is also one of the main causes of a rash known as allergic contact dermatitis.


A person with nickel allergy almost always has a localized response after exposure to nickel-containing objects. This means that the allergic reaction only affects the part of the skin that comes in contact with the nickel.


Eating foods that contain small amounts of nickel can also trigger an immune response that causes changes in the skin.


Allergic contact dermatitis causes the following symptoms:



  • severe itching

  • scaly, raw or thickened skin

  • Dry, discolored or rough skin

  • warm and tender skin

  • blisters full of fluid


The rash usually lasts two to four weeks after exposure.


In rare cases, an allergy to nickel can also cause respiratory problems, which include:



  • runny nose

  • nasal inflammation

  • asthma

  • sneeze


People with this type of reaction should take preventive measures immediately.


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What causes an allergic reaction to nickel?


The immune system is responsible for promoting chemical changes in the body that help fight against harmful invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. People with allergies have an immune system that confuses a typically harmless substance with an intruder.


The immune system begins to produce chemicals to protect itself from the substance. The immune system of a person with nickel allergy is reacting to the object or food that contains nickel. That reaction leads to several symptoms, including rashes and itching.


This adverse reaction may occur after the first exposure to nickel or after repeated and prolonged exposure.


The exact cause of a nickel allergy is not known. However, researchers believe that sensitivity to nickel can be genetic, that is, inherited from a family member.


How is a nickel allergy diagnosed?


Your doctor or dermatologist can diagnose a nickel allergy. Call them right away if you have a rash on your skin and do not know what caused it. Your doctor will first ask about your symptoms, including when they started and what seems to make them worse.


Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications, supplements or new foods and products that you have recently tried.


A patch test is often done if a nickel allergy is suspected. During the patch test, your doctor applies a small amount of nickel to a patch. Then the patch is placed on the skin.


Patch tests are generally very safe and should not cause a major allergic reaction. They should only cause a minor response in people allergic to nickel.


Your doctor will observe your skin for approximately 48 hours after the patch test and look for signs of an allergic reaction. If the skin looks irritated, then you may be allergic to nickel. In some cases, the results are not clear and more evidence is needed.


How is a nickel allergy treated?


There is no cure for a nickel allergy. As with other allergies, the best treatment is to avoid the allergen.


However, your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications to help reduce skin irritation caused by a nickel allergy:



  • corticosteroid cream

  • non-steroidal cream

  • oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone

  • oral antihistamine, such as fexofenadine (Allegra) or cetirizine (Zyrtec)


Be sure to carefully follow your doctor's instructions when using these medications.


The following home treatments can also help:



  • calamine lotion

  • Hydrating body lotion

  • wet compresses


Tell your doctor if the treatments do not help or if the symptoms worsen.


You should also contact your doctor immediately if you experience redness, pain or pus in the affected area. These symptoms can be a sign of infection and should be treated with antibiotics.


How can an allergic reaction to nickel be prevented?


While allergy itself can not be prevented, the best way to prevent an allergic reaction to nickel is to avoid all objects that contain it. Always check with the manufacturer, retailer or label to find out if an item is made or contains nickel before buying or using it.


Nickel is also present in a surprisingly large amount of food and food products, which include:



  • you black

  • Nuts and seeds

  • soy milk and chocolate milk

  • chocolate and cocoa powder

  • certain canned and processed foods, including meat and fish (see labels)

  • certain grains, including:

    • oats

    • buckwheat

    • integral

    • wheat germ

    • wheat pasta

    • multigrain breads and cereals

    • certain vegetables, including:

      • asparagus

      • Beans

      • broccoli

      • Brussels sprouts

      • cauliflower

      • Spinach

      • all canned vegetables

      • certain legumes, including:

        • chickpeas

        • lentils

        • peas

        • misery

        • soy products, like tofu

        • Some fruits, including:

          • bananas

          • pears

          • all canned fruits










Talk to your doctor to avoid these foods if you are allergic to nickel. People with nickel allergy should also:



  • refrain from using stainless steel kitchen equipment

  • Avoid using jewelry that contains nickel or piercing the body.

  • Avoid wearing clothing with plastic or zippers and coated buttons.

  • Consult an orthodontist about nickel before receiving orthotics.

  • Ask an ophthalmologist if the glasses contain nickel before buying them.

  • Tell doctors about a nickel allergy before having surgery.


If you are allergic to nickel and work in an industry where you are frequently exposed to nickel, talk to your employer and your doctor. They can help you determine a plan to avoid nickel and prevent an allergic reaction.



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Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/health/allergies/nickel






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