Nickel Allergy Symptoms

Nickel Allergy

A nickel allergy can cause contact dermatitis, eczema, itchy bumps on the forehead, and other itchy rashes.
A nickel allergy can cause contact dermatitis, eczema, itchy bumps on the forehead, and other itchy rashes. | Source

Nickel allergy - not just metal jewelry, but food, too

Nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis. An estimated 1 out of every 10 people is at least mildly allergic to nickel by contact.

This form of the allergy often manifests as rashes, itchy bumps, and oozing sores near the site where nickel jewelry, nickel rivets in jeans, a nickel watch, nickel necklace, or other piece of actual metal is touching your skin.

However, for a smaller percentage of nickel sufferers, a nickel allergy can also be caused by food. Many foods are high in nickel, not to mention most multivitamins which contain nickel as a dietary supplement.

Ingesting nickel, for those who are sensitive to it, can cause a variety of allergic symptoms including GI distress (such as bloating or diarrhea) and various skin issues like dermatitis, itchy bumps on the forehead, eczema, and other rashes.

Nickel allergy - jewelry, watches, rivets, and other sources of contact nickel allergic dermatitis

Nickel is found in many metal alloys including a variety of stainless steel and surgical steel products. Steel is a mixture of metals, and may include nickel. This isn't always shown on the label. Thus, any metal or metallic substance should be considered suspect.

If you want to be sure, you can buy a nickel allergy test kit. These kits will determine whether your ring, watch, purse buckles, belt buckles, jeans rivets, etc contain nickel.

If you are very attached to these items, you can also render them somewhat harmless with a coating. You can use cellophane tape, or a layer of clear nail polish to create a buffer between the nickel item and your skin. However, these coatings will need to be periodically reapplied.

Nickel allergy foods

Many foods are high in nickel, and can cause systemic reactions for those who are sensitive to them. The Penn State Dermatology Department has a suggested list of foods on their Low-Nickel Diet. They suggest that you avoid nuts, canned foods (particularly acidic foods that may leach more nickel from the cans), wheat, brown rice, bran, raspberries, chocolate, and other high-nickel foods.

Read the entire nickel allergy food list here.

If you suffer from a nickel allergy, the only long-term treatment is to avoid the foods and objects which trigger your allergy. Luckily there are plenty of nickel free foods that you can enjoy, including most meats (chicken, beef, and pork), most fruits, many vegetables, rice, and potatoes.

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