Nickel allergies are common among men and women alike. However, some women experience nickel allergies after undergoing routine medical treatments, says Marla Ahlgrimm.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, contact dermatitis is a common condition that affects millions of people. And nickel is one of the most common allergens. Although usually a harmless substance, some people’s bodies simply reject contact with nickel and nickel alloys. Nickel can be found in everything from cosmetics to costume jewelry to your laptop and eyeglasses.
Marla Ahlgrimm explains that some people have an idiopathic allergy – idiopathic means there is no known cause. However, women who have undergone certain implanted birth control procedures may develop a nickel allergy over time.
Marla Ahlgrimm says that contact dermatitis can present different symptoms. However, the most common include rashes and bumps, itching, skin discoloration, dry skin, and blisters. In some cases, a rash can be painful and may present with an infection and pus.
What Causes It?
Marla Ahlgrimm says there’s no real scientific answer that explains what causes a nickel allergy. However, all allergies develop when the immune system sees a substance as a threat. Common allergies, such as pollen and dog hair, are fairly easy to control. Nickel allergies are another story. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that, because nickel is found in many different substances, it’s almost impossible to know what will cause a reaction. Further, women who have developed a nickel sensitivity/allergy because of a birth control implant can break out in hives at any moment without warning.
One thing that is known, says Marla Ahlgrimm, is that once the body is allergic, it will always be allergic.
Other Risk Factors To Having A Nickel Allergy?
While there is no way to determine who, exactly, will develop a nickel allergy, there are a few risk factors to be aware of. These include:
- Body piercings. Jewelry is often composed of a nickel alloy, which, over time, creates an allergy. Prolonged wear can further increase the risks.
- Working in the metal industry. Metal stamping and even bartending (bartenders are often exposed to metal shakers and caps) put people at a higher risk of a nickel allergy, says Marla Ahlgrimm.
- Gender. Marla Ahlgrimm says that women, especially overweight women, are at a higher risk of a nickel allergy. This may have something to do with a greater number of body piercings and/or a larger surface where nickel can come into contact with the skin.
How To Prevent A Nickel Allergy
As we’ve alluded to previously, it may not be possible to prevent a nickel allergy from developing in the first place. But, Marla Ahlgrimm says there are a few steps you can take, such as avoiding prolonged exposure, wearing hypoallergenic jewelry, and wearing gloves when you have to touch nickel-based products.
Treating a nickel allergy first begins with the diagnosis. This is often done in the form of a patch test, which Marla Ahlgrimm explains involves affixing a patch to your skin for 24 to 48 hours. This patch is laced with nickel. After two days, a dermatologist or other healthcare provider will look at the sites of the patch and determine if an allergy is present.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, the first step toward treating a nickel allergy is to learn how to avoid it. Next are specialized creams or oral corticosteroids.
Marla Ahlgrimm recommends that women be cautious in their birth control selection, especially if they have a history of nickel allergies in their family. However, fortunately, nickel allergies are rarely severe, just an annoyance that some people have to learn to live with.