Skin Care March 1, 2016

How to Deal With Nickel Sensitivity

Woman suffering from contact sensitivity

As more and more costume jewelry is formulated with nickel, people with nickel sensitivity can get frustrated with their allergy. But don’t worry: there are lots of ways to lessen the symptoms of a nickel sensitivity!

Nickel sensitivity is one of those odd things about our skin that scientists haven’t quite gotten a hold of: as of now, there are no known causes as to why some people develop sensitivities to nickel, why a person can be non-allergic one day and allergic the next, or why certain types of nickel cause more sensitivity than others. But what scientists do know is that nickel allergies manifest themselves as dark purple, green, or red patches underneath the area that the nickel touches (around the finger if you’re wearing a ring, or around your neck if you’re wearing a necklace). For people with nickel allergies that try to wear nickel earrings, their earring holes may become swollen and painful, and in extreme cases, cause tears to the skin. Not fun, right? While some people have extreme allergies–and if you do, you likely know who you are–the best bet is to steer clear of nickel altogether. There are lots of great options for nickel-free jewelry that you should take advantage of. But for the rest of us with mild nickel allergies that only pop up every once in a while with an unwelcome green or purple skin spot, there are lots of easy tricks to keep those symptoms from occurring when we wear nickel.

Coat Your Jewelry with Nail Polish or Another Clear Sealant
If you’re trying to salvage cheap costume jewelry, try this easy trick: simply find a skin-safe sealant (clear nail polishes that are chip-free and last for a long time are a great option), and “paint” the areas of your jewelry that come into contact with your skin, like the inside of your ring or the pendant of your necklace. This prevents the nickel from actually coming into contact with your skin, which reduces your chances of an allergic reaction. Make sure whatever sealant you use is skin safe: things like glue or painting materials are probably not skin safe, which you’ll be able to find out by reading the label on the back. If you want to be extra careful, there are products made to specifically seal nickel jewelry to mitigate allergic reactions, meaning they’re 100% skin safe and may last longer than traditional nail polish or other sealants. The bonus of this method: sealing also keeps cheap jewelry from oxidizing and losing its finish, meaning it’ll keep its color and shine for longer.

Use Petroleum Jelly or other Occlusives for Nickel-Coated Earrings
If you have a very mild nickel sensitivity and can’t bear to throw away heirloom or otherwise special earrings, coating the earring posts in a type of occlusive like petroleum jelly or olive oil will help mitigate skin sensitivity by creating a barrier between your skin and the nickel. In order for this method to work, be prepared to obsessively clean: the posts of your earrings should be scrubbed with rubbing alcohol before and after application of the occlusive in order to keep your ears and the earrings sanitized. This trick can also work for other facial or body piercings as well.

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