One of the common allergic reaction you can experience is the nickel allergy. It is the common cause that triggers contact dermatitis. The allergic contact dermatitis can result in the itchy rash. So, you can see rashes appearing on the skin surface after touching a relatively harmless substance. It is the common allergy resulting from the association with earrings as well as other jewelry items. But, nickel is a common metal that you can find in many day-to-day objects. Therefore, you can observe the nickel presence in items like zippers, coins, eyeglass frames, and cell phones.
People with sensitive skin can get a nickel allergy by just coming in contact with the metal. But, others can experience the allergy with prolong/repeated exposure to items containing nickel. You need to understand that once you develop the allergy, you are more prone to getting it again. So, it is better to avoid contact with the metal to avoid repeated occurrences. You need to get the necessary treatments to reduce the symptoms associated with the nickel allergy. Read ahead to know more about the issues and the methods to overcome them.
What Is Allergy?
Your body’s immune system responds to a certain allergic substance that comes in contact or enters your system. The hypersensitive responses vary with the person to person. The substances triggering the allergic reaction is known as allergens. You can find the allergens everywhere in the environment. So, you can find it in your foods, drinks or the air you breathe. The common allergens that can cause an adverse reaction in your body are:
- Animal Hair
- Bee Venom
Therefore, the allergens can cause adverse reactions that can cause severe distress to you. Some allergens cause no reaction in people. The allergens are classified as harmless and harmful. The harmful allergens can result in fatal complication including death. Hence, it is essential to understand your body’s reaction to different allergens. It helps you avoid the items triggering severe complication.
What Is Nickel Allergy?
Before knowing in detail about the allergy, it is important to know about the metal. Nickel is the metal found easily in the environment. The naturally available, silver-colored metal is used to produce different items by mixing it with other metals. So, you get various nickel items like:
- Eyeglass frames
- Paper Clips
- Orthodontic Braces
- Stainless Steel Cooking Items
- Eating Utensils
- Snap Buttons
- Belt Buckles
The nickel is also present in small amount in food items. So, some grains, vegetables, and fruits have nickel presence.
Nickel allergy is your immune system’s response when your body comes in contact with any product or food containing nickel. The adverse reaction by the immune system can put you in distress. It happens because your immune system mistakes the nickel as a dangerous intruder to your health. The immune system fights against any dangerous intruders like bacteria or virus to keep you healthy. So, the nickel gets mistaken for the harmful substances that can trigger illness in you. It results in your immune system producing chemicals to fight the nickel. The chemical released by your body can trigger an allergic reaction.
Is Nickel Allergy Common?
Nickel allergy is common among people. It mainly causes a skin rash with severe itchiness. It also causes redness and blistering. The allergy is common among women and young girls compared to men. So, the number of women/girls suffering from the issue is more around the world. Anyone can develop the allergy at any time in their life. Hence, age is not a restriction to develop an allergy. Unfortunately, once you develop the allergy, it may not go away completely. Your immune system is always at risk of getting affected by the problem. So, it is essential that you keep away from the foods and items containing nickel.
Symptoms Of Nickel Allergy
If your immune system reacts to the Nickel, then you may have a localized allergic response. It restricts to the area of exposure to the items or products containing the nickel. So, only the skin surface that makes contact with the metal suffers an adverse reaction. Consuming food containing the small amount of nickel can also cause reactions and changes in the skin surface. When you have the allergy due to nickel, the skin reaction can occur within twelve to forty-eight hours after coming in contact with the metal. The common signs and symptoms associated with the allergy are:
- Skin Rash
- Bumps on the skin surface
- Color changes on the skin (mostly redness)
- Dry Patches (similar to the skin burn)
- Blisters (in severe cases)
When you come in contact with the Nickel, it may cause an allergic skin rash. You are also susceptible to getting allergic contact dermatitis. The allergic contact dermatitis has the following symptoms that you need to pay attention:
- Thickened, raw, or scaly skin
- Warm Skin
- Rough Skin
- Dry/Discolored Skin
- Fluid-filled Blisters
The contact dermatitis allergic rashes usually appear after two to four weeks after getting exposed to the nickel items or objects.
Complications Due To Nickel Allergy
When you ignore the allergy, it can escalate into severe complications. So, not getting treatment can lead to respiratory problems. So, in rare cases, you can experience diverse issues like:
- Nasal Inflammation
- A Runny Nose
Therefore, you need to contact your doctor immediately and get the necessary treatment. If you are at risk of nickel allergy, it is better to take adequate preventive measures. So, the right treatment options can help you overcome the issue with ease.
Causes Of Nickel Allergy
It is not exactly clear why nickel allergy affects people. But, scientists believe that your genetics play an important part in sensitivity to the metal. You may have genes that put you more at risk of getting the allergy. So, if you have a family member or relative to the issue, then you can get affected by the issue. Your immune system can promote chemical changes that mistake nickel for the harmful substances that trigger diseases.
Every person has the power to fight off the attacks from bacteria and virus due to the powerful immune system. But, sometimes, the immune system can confuse harmless substance as intruders. It results in releasing chemicals to destroy the intruders. So, when you come in contact with nickel objects or eat food containing the metal, your immune system reacts. The result is the release of chemicals into the bloodstream that can cause itching and rashes. Therefore, the allergic reaction can appear after the first exposure or after repeated or prolonged exposure. The issue is not completely curable as your immune system will always react to nickel. So, the only viable option is to prevent coming in contact with nickel.
Nickel Allergy Diagnosis
When you observe the above-mentioned signs and symptoms in your body, you need to seek medical assistance. It will help you get the treatment at the right time to overcome the complications associated with the condition. So, get an appointment with your dermatologist to check out the rash and the underlying issue triggering it. When you see the doctor, the following diagnostic methods are used to detect the issue:
Your doctor performs the physical assessment to find the exact reason causing the rash. So, you need to answer the questions regarding the rash truthfully. It will help the doctor determine the exact cause of the rash and the factors that can make it worse. You also need to inform the doctor about the medications, supplements or the new products/foods you have tried. Hence, it sheds information on the actual factor causing the nickel allergy.
If your doctor suspects an allergic reaction due to nickel, then a patch test can reveal it. The patch test is completely safe and causes you no harm. It only checks if your immune system reacts to nickel in an adverse manner. The doctor applies a small amount of nickel on a patch and places over your skin. If you have a nickel allergy, then your immune system reacts to the patch placed on the skin. So, you may have a minor response to the nickel patch on our skin.
Your doctor may wait up to two days (48 hours) to detect any adverse reaction to the nickel patch. So, your doctor observes the skin carefully to find signs of an allergic reaction. If your skin looks red or irritated, then it means you have a nickel allergy. In some cases, your doctor cannot determine the results clearly. In such cases, more testing can reveal the issue with precision.
Risk Factors Of Nickel Allergy
Some people are more prone to the issue compared to the others. People who work in certain industries come in contact with nickel frequently. Individuals working in such areas are more at risk of the problem. So, people working in the following fields need to maintain caution:
- People Working On Cash Counters
- Individuals Working With Metals
Nickel Allergy Treatment Options
Unfortunately, nickel allergy has no permanent treatment. Therefore, the only option to avoid complications is to avoid the metal completely. It will reduce your risk of getting affected by the allergy. But, once you get the allergy, contact your dermatologist. The doctor can prescribe you medications that reduce the adverse effects of the allergy. So, the following medications reduce the irritation and discomfort caused by the allergy:
Topical corticosteroid creams offer relief from the irritation and inflammation caused due to the rashes. The different strengths of the cream can offer relief from the discomfort. The mild, moderate, potent or very potent creams can provide you relief from the itching and irritation.
The nonsteroidal creams are designed to relieve pain, inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and rashes. When you apply it directly to the affected area, you can get relief.
Instead of using the cream form of corticosteroid, you can opt for oral form. Medications like prednisone. The glucocorticoid in the synthetic form can suppress the adverse reactions of the immune system. So, it can treat the irritation due to nickel allergy, autoimmune diseases, and inflammatory diseases.
Your doctor can prescribe the oral antihistamine medications to overcome the allergic reactions like:
- A runny nose
- Skin Rashes
- Itchy Throat
Your doctor prescribes medications like cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra) to overcome the problem.
If you have pus or redness in the affected area, then your doctor can prescribe antibiotics. The redness and pus point to infection due to the nickel allergy. So, your doctor can prescribe the right dose of antibiotics that you need to take religiously to overcome the pain as well as infection.
When you use the medications, you have to follow the instructions properly. You need to carefully follow the guidelines to prevent the overuse or other complications.
You can use some home treatments to alleviate the issue from escalating. So, you can use the following to reduce the symptoms of the nickel allergy.
The calamine lotion gives you a cooling sensation once applied on the skin. It is the anti-itch lotion that can overcome the skin irritation. You can calamine lotion without any prescription.
You can apply moisturizing lotion to get relief from the itching and irritation. It soothes the skin and provides relief from the distress and discomfort.
Placing wet compress on the area affected by nickel allergy can relieve the distress caused due to the problem. It will also prevent the problem from worsening.
Remember the home care is only to provide you relief. You need to seek your doctor’s assistance if the conditions worsen to get the right treatment.
Prevention Of Nickel Allergy
You can prevent the allergy by avoiding all contact with the metal. Once your immune system gets affected by the allergy, you become more prone to the risk of the issue. You have to maintain caution while using any item or consume food. So, to prevent the nickel allergy, you can follow the pointers.
Know The Food
Always check the label issued by the manufacturer to check if the items contain nickel or not. Unfortunately, many food items contain the metal that you may have no knowledge. Several food items contain the metal in it like:
- Cocoa powder
- Chocolate Milk
- Black tea
- Soy Milk
- Packaged food like fish and meat
- Canned Food
Grains Containing Nickel
- Whole Wheat
- Whole wheat pasta
- Wheat germ
- Multigrain cereals and slices of bread
- All canned vegetables
- Brussels sprouts
- All canned fruits
Nuts and seeds
Soy Products (Tofu)
Avoid Contact With Nickel
As nickel allergy occurs due to the contact with the nickel, you need to avoid the metal completely. So, follow the pointers to avoid the issue:
- Abstain from cooking in the stainless steel equipment as it contains nickel presence.
- Avoid wearing jewelry made of nickel. The same rule applies to body piercing as it can lead to infections.
- Clothes with zipper or buttons made of plastic/nickel can cause nickel allergy. So, avoid wearing such clothes.
Talk To Your Doctor
Before going into surgery or perform dental work, you need to inform the doctor about your nickel allergy. Your orthodontist must have the information about your allergies before getting the orthodontic braces. The same applies to your eyeglasses too. So, talk to your ophthalmologist before getting the eyeglasses to avoid nickel presence. You also need to inform your doctor about the allergies before having any surgeries.
Avoid Hazardous Environment
If you work in an industry that exposes you to nickel, then you need to talk to your employers. Prolonged exposure can trigger a severe nickel allergy. So, it will help you develop a proper plan to move forward without any complications. It will help prevent an allergic reaction or other complications.
Nickel allergy is not life-threatening. But, the rashes can cause severe discomfort and distress. It can cause rash, blisters, and cracked skin. Sometimes, it can become infected leading to other complications. So, you need to maintain caution. See a dermatologist to get proper treatment. It will help you get the ideal treatment to overcome the problem without other complications. As nickel is present in many objects, you are at risk of getting the allergy. Therefore, to prevent the issue, you need to avoid coming in contact with the objects containing nickel.
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