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Last updated July 4th/2005

First off I'd like to thank everyone who has sent me feedback on this page and questions that they had. Some of the questions submitted required a bit of searching to get answers on. The information available for this is getting better, but it still requires a lot of searching to try to get all the information.

I first started this page out of my own frustration of not being able to find information on nickel alloy allergies. After going to several jewelry stores and not being able to get answers on what had nickel, even at reputable companies. I eventually turned to the Internet and since then have spent countless hours of searching for information. There were a few years were I only wore 14k gold because I couldn't get information on other metals that I was able to wear. Finally I did find one store in my area that didn't cause me any reactions, which to me was like a godsend.

The purpose of this page is to help bring more information to one spot and make it available to others with the same problems with nickel alloy allergies. Please keep in mind if you have or even suspect you may have a nickel alloy allergy, make an appointment with a dermatologist and have the proper allergy tests performed. Although nickel allergies are very common, it is possible to have sensitivities to other metals. So before you can decide for sure which metals are best for you, get informed any be aware of different alloy used in different metals, before you decide to purchase them. As well as having a patch test done with a dermatologist to confirm what allergies/sensitivities you have.

Although most of us would figure the suppliers of any type of jewelry would be aware of its content that is not always the case. Remember that hypoallergenic does not mean nickel free, HYPOALLERGENIC does mean "Having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction". Also some say their jewelry is nickel free, but by some laws nickel free could mean that is has very low contents of nickel in it, that normally would not affect you unless you had an extreme allergy to nickel. If in your searches you have come across information that you feel would be helpful to others, please submit it to the site. As well if there are reliable stores in your area submit them as well, name and location of the store. Maybe this way we can all help others to simplify their search. Just use the Comments/Questions link to email to this site. Any emails sent to this site maybe posted as reference for others, Full names and email addresses will not be included from any emails sent to this site.

*Important Disclaimer: Answers on this page are not a substitute for professional advice. For reliable information of any sort you must consult an officially qualified professional in your area. This site does recommend consulting with a dermatologist.*

 

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Questions: Click question to be taken to answer
 

Does Stainless Steel Contain Nickel?
What products can Stainless Steel containing Nickel be found in?
Does Pure Sterling Silver contain Nickel?
Can people who can wear 14kt yellow gold but not 10kt yellow gold wear .925 sterling silver?

Has your site found any stores that sell 925 sterling silver, and have a valid guarantee of no nickel content in their products?

If I am buying jewelry that has nickel in it but has a plating on it that a jewelry store has guaranteed will protect me from contact with the nickel. Is this a wise investment?

Does Surgical Stainless Steel contain Nickel?
Does White Gold contain Nickel?
Does Titanium contain Nickel?
Does Platinum contain Nickel?
Are there places that make body jewelry in Gold?
Jewelry I have worn before with no problem is now causing reactions?
Can a Nickel allergy develop at anytime? Even if you never had one before?
Is there any treatment for a Nickel allergy?
How bad can Nickel Allergy reactions be?
If I develop a bad Nickel Reaction what should I do?
Can an existing Nickel allergy develop from a Mild allergy to an extreme one?
What commonly worn items can Nickel be found in?
What is the best way to avoid reactions I get from buttons/zippers/clasps on my clothes?
Is a Male or Female more likely to develop a Nickel allergy?
How can I be certain I have a Nickel Allergy? Is there a Test available for it?
If I want to wear cheaper jewelry are there ways I can help prevent a reaction?
If I am planning to get a piercing done what precautions should I take?
Is there a product I can buy to test Jewelry for Nickel content before I make a purchase?
Does hairspray have nickel in it?

I have recently had surgery, where they have had to place metal wires or supports inside my body. Is it possible for these metals to cause a nickel alloy allergy reaction?

If jewelry is advertised as hypoallergenic, is it safe for a person with a nickel alloy allergy?

What would be the safest choices for jewelry, when dealing with a nickel alloy allergy?

What is the best cookware for a person with severe nickel allergies?

 

 

Does Stainless Steel Contain Nickel?

Yes it does. Stainless steel can contain approx. 10% Nickel. Usually this is bonded so tightly it won't leech. But if you are extremely sensitive to Nickel Alloys you may still experience a reaction to this.

 

What products can Stainless Steel containing Nickel be found in?

 

Stainless steel can commonly be found on the backs of water resistant watches as well as cheaper makes of watches. Also some makes of cheaper watches can have the entire casing made of Nickel Silver. If you have had reactions from wearing watches, the best thing to do is to buy a sports watch, that has a cloth band that prevents and metal from contacting the skin. Wal-Mart carries a good selection of these watches. As well as replacement bands for them. The other alternative is using a protective polish on the back of the watch to prevent contact on the skin.

At the current time our site has not found other alternatives for watches, if you know of one please feel free to use our e-mail at the bottom of this page.

 

Does Pure Sterling Silver contain Nickel?

 

"Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. Different jewelers or manufacturers will use different alloys. A sterling silver alloy with nickel content is still sterling silver and can be stamped either “Sterling” or “925”. The 7.5% ‘other metals’ does not change the designation of sterling silver. The word pure is not used in alloyed metals because nothing is pure when mixed with other things." Quoted from an email recieved from Greg of http://www.kelticnations.com

So what is advertised as pure sterling silver can contain nickel, depending on what metal the jeweler has chosen to alloy with the sterling silver.

 

 

Can people who can wear 14kt yellow gold but not 10kt yellow gold wear .925 sterling silver?

The answer is maybe, so long as it is just a nickel alloy allergy you are dealing with. As long as the sterling silver is not alloyed with nickel. A lot of jewelry stores aren't well informed about the content of the metal they sell, so you need to be very careful. When purchasing 925 sterling silver it would a wise idea to invest in a nickel alloy testing kit (http://www.allerderm.com/consumers/allertest.asp).


Has your site found any stores that sell 925 sterling silver, and have a valid guarantee of no nickel content in their products?

To date the only store this site has found one that guarantees no nickel in their 925 pure sterling silver, and when used it did not cause a reaction. This site is http://www.metalsmiths.ca/ , they also back up their products with a one year guarantee if it should break.

Reader Recommended sites:
www.simplywhispers.com

If you have found other stores whose product matches their guarantee, please use the e-mail address at the bottom of this page to submit it to our site. We can then include a section of user recommended links for jewelry stores.

 

If I am buying jewelry that has nickel in it but has a plating on it that a jewelry store has guaranteed will protect me from contact with the nickel. Is this a wise investment?

NO is the answer to this question. Even if the plating contains no nickel, eventually the plating will wear down. The time it takes to wear down will depend on the thickness of the plating. If your looking to invest in jewelry that you won't have to replace, this isn't a wise investment.

 

Does Surgical Stainless Steel contain Nickel?

 

YES! Surgical Stainless Steel can commonly contain .05% Nickel. If you are extremely sensitive to Nickel you will have to make sure the supplier can guarantee 0% Nickel. If you plan on getting a new piercing such as a navel piercing, make sure the piercer is informed of nickel allergies and how sensitive the allergy is. The piercer can special order in jewelry with a 0% nickel content.

 

Does White Gold contain Nickel?

 

YES!! White Gold can contain as high as 28% Nickel in the lower carats of gold.

Be sure to ask the jeweler what metal that they use to alloy with their gold.

"There are two groups of white golds, the ‘nickel whites’ and the ‘palladium whites’. Nickel is definitely falling out of favour in many countries. The European Union passed legislation to limit nickel release from jewellery and therefore, the ‘palladium whites’ are phasing out the ‘nickel whites’. The drawback to the switch to palladium is the extra weight of the palladium (denser metal), the fact that palladium itself is more expensive than the gold itself and it creates a darker white gold than nickel does." Quoted from an email recieved from Greg of http://www.kelticnations.com

 

Does Titanium contain Nickel?

 

Pure Titanium does not contain nickel. Some titanium jewelry is alloyed with nickel, so make sure when purchasing that it is guaranteed to be PURE titanium.

 

Does Platinum contain Nickel?

 

No Pure Platinum does not contain nickel, it is commonly alloyed with iridium and ruthenium.

 

Are there places that make body jewelry in Gold?

 

Yes, there are several online shops that carry a variety of Gold body jewelry. These sites can be searched out on Google, Msn or other various search engines. You can also check with your local jewelers to see if such items can be special ordered.

 

Jewelry I have worn before with no problem is now causing reactions?

Don't be alarmed this is pretty common, and there could be a couple reasons for it.

If you already have a known nickel allergy there is a chance the jewelry you were wearing had a low enough content of nickel in it that it did not cause a reaction before. Meaning your sensitivity to it has gotten worse. To confirm if it did or not, purchase a nickel testing kit to know for sure, and test that particular piece of jewelry. A lot of the time jewelry we are told has no nickel often does contain it.

If there is no nickel present in that jewelry, there is a chance you may have a different metal sensitivity. In this case make an appointment with a dermatologist for testing to determine the cause of the reaction.

 

Can a Nickel allergy develop at anytime? Even if you never had one before?

 

The answer is yes. You could have never had a reaction to it before and find yourself suddenly have reactions. You can develop a Nickel allergy at any point in life, and can often be a life long allergy once it has developed.

 

Is there any treatment for a Nickel allergy?

 

No, there is not treatment for this. A Nickel allergy is a contact allergy. The best thing is to avoid products that contain Nickel, to prevent reactions.

 

How bad can Nickel Allergy reactions be?

 

They can be mild to severe. From simple itching when wearing products that contain it. Or redness in skin, blister, rashes/hives. Infections can also easily develop from a Nickel Allergy, and can become quite severe if untreated or improperly treated. For example when I first developed an allergy to Nickel, I wore cheap earrings that first caused it to be itchy, then swell. Eventually my ears got infected and the infection spread under the skin on my face as well as in the ear canal. The first doctor I had seen prescribed the wrong dose of medication for it. The second Doctor I saw prescribed the right one, and explained to me if it had gotten any worse I could have had partial sight or hearing loss.

If I develop a bad Nickel Reaction what should I do?

 

Discontinue use of any jewelry that you have noticed causes a reaction immediately. If you have tried at home remedies and they do not seem to help, consult a doctor for proper treatment to prevent infections.

 

Can an existing Nickel allergy develop from a Mild allergy to an extreme one?

The answer is yes, the more you are exposed to metals that contain nickel the greater your chances are of having your sensitivity to nickel get worse.

What commonly worn items can Nickel be found in?

 

Zippers, Metal buttons on pants or tops, Necklaces, Earrings, Bracelets, Rings, Eye Glass frames, Watch Bands, Clasps. To be safe from reactions you are best to assume that any cheap metals will contain Nickel.

Feedback via e-mail:
_______________________________________________
Hello, I found your site searching for some way to help my daughter with her nickel allergy. She is four and we have the jewelry situation down (gold or claires stores have good nickel free jewelry) but our problem is with her clothes. The button on her jeans will break her out, or a snap on a shirt. Its really hard to eliminate these things from her wardrobe entirely and I was wondering if you had any suggestions. I have been putting a Band-Aid on her jeans but with the uniform shirts she wears, it’s a little harder to do.
I will take any suggestions/comments you have!
Thanks
Megan
_______________________________________________
Do you have any suggestions on how to handle a nickel allergy when wearing shorts, blue jeans and various other clothing items that have snaps/buttons/zippers on them?
Thanks for your help!
Monika
*refer to next question for answer*

What is the best way to avoid reactions I get from buttons/zippers/clasps on my clothes?

 

The best thing to do it to stitch a thicker material over the back of these items that are touching the skin. Although the best option is to purchase clothing that will not give you that problem. Remember a Nickel allergy is a contact allergy, so if you can take steps to avoid the contact. The chances of a reaction are less.

 

Is a Male or Female more likely to develop a Nickel allergy?

 

Although Nickel allergy's seem to be more common in women, it can't be said for certain. In the past women were more likely to wear jewelry or have piercing's done. Nowadays that trend is changing.

 

How can I be certain I have a Nickel Allergy? Is there a Test available for it?

 

The best way to confirm a Nickel Allergy, is to set up an appointment with an dermatologist to be tested for it. A dermatologist can give you a patch test to see if you are allergic to nickel alloys, this is not limited just nickel, they do test for other items as well. Here is a site that offers some information on patch tests http://www.dermnetnz.org/dna.patch.tests/info.html.

 

If I want to wear cheaper jewelry are there ways I can help prevent a reaction?

 

Yes there are ways to try to prevent a reaction although this may not work for everyone. With earrings you can see about buying protective plastic covers. With watches or other items that may contact the skin, you can try coating them with a clear nail polish. As well some jewelry shops sell special solutions you can use to brush on and cover the metals.

 

If I am planning to get a piercing done what precautions should I take?

 

Make sure that the jewelry being put in place till the skin heals is a 0% Nickel Surgical Stainless Steel or 18K Gold. To make sure you do not develop any reactions, while the skin is healing.

 

Is there a product I can buy to test Jewelry for Nickel content before I make a purchase?

The answer to that question is YES. You can speak to your dermatologist, doctor or pharmacist to see if they sell kits that test items for nickel alloys. Or you can visit the following site on the Internet http://www.allerderm.com/consumers/allertest.asp.

 

Does hairspray have nickel in it?

This question I was not to sure about, but have added it to the site in case someone else may have the same concerns. Although I can not say for sure whether or not hairspray contains nickel, I would suggest talking to a dermatologist if you find yourself experiencing reactions when using it. With hairspray it is also very possible it is not a nickel allergy you are dealing with, but it could be another type of a contact allergy. The only information I was able to search out for possible causes of reactions is found on the following site http://www.dermnetnz.org/dna.acd/wool.html. Also if you have ever experienced problems with using fragrance products that could play a factor here as well. If you have been using hairspray in a can you may want to try one in a plastic container and see if this helps the problem.

Feedback via e-mail:
_________________________________________

I have recently been diagnosed with a nickel allergy. This is very serious for me as I work as the salad preparer in a room full of stainless steel. ( contact with fresh fruits and veggies is a large concern) The most recent reaction I have had was on my back between my shoulder blades. I am thinking that hair spray may be the cause. I always fixed my hair before I put my shirt on and since I have discontinued this practice I have had fewer episodes. Just a tidbit that I thought might be useful to someone.
Noreen

 

I have recently had surgery, where they have had to place metal wires or supports inside my body. Is it possible for these metals to cause a nickel alloy allergy reaction?

Yes it is very possible, but in this situation I can not stress enough the importance of setting up an appointment with a dermatologist and having a patch test done. As well discuss with the dermatologist your concerns, and what the possibility is that the metal used in your surgery has contents in it that could cause an allergic reaction. Without taking this step, do not expect your concerns to properly addressed. It is possible for surgical stainless steel to have a low content of nickel in it(low enough that it will not cause a reaction unless you are extremely sensitive to it), but there is also surgical stainless steel made that has a guarantee of a 0% nickel content. A dermatologist would also have a better idea if it is possible the surgical stainless steel used in the hospital, could have caused a reaction.

 

If jewelry is advertised as hypoallergenic, is it safe for a person with a nickel alloy allergy?

The best answer for this question is No. In earrings the posts may not contain nickel but the jewelry might. The Jewelry needs to be guaranteed that it is NICKEL free. But even nickel free may not mean it has no nickel, but may have smaller traces of nickel that will be less likely to cause a reaction. HYPOALLERGENIC means "Having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction

 

What is the best cookware for someone with severe nickel allergies?

The best info I did find was where people were discussing a similar situation its the last comment on this linked page http://www.finishing.com/307/01.shtml to quote " I have switched over to Corningware (some sort of glass possibly lithium based) for stovetop cooking. Interestingly this change seems to be associated with a reduction of my wife's hand eczema."

 

What would be the safest choices for jewelry, when dealing with a nickel alloy allergy?

  • 925 Sterling Silver - you must be careful the jewelry is not coated with nickel or alloyed with nickel. Always use a nickel testing kit when buying this type of metal to be safe.
  • 18k Yellow gold - for new piercing, after piercing have healed many may find that they may wear 14k with no side effects. B aware gold is alloyed with nickel, higher karats contain less nickel. Which may decrease the chances of a reaction in most.
  • Surgical Stainless Steel - commonly contains a low enough content of nickel that it won't cause a reaction. It can be ordered with a 0% nickel content if extremely sensitive. Nickel free does not guarantee that there is a 0% content of nickel, it only guarantee's a low enough content that most will not react to it.
  • Pure Titanium - virtually nickel free, with virtually nonexistent reactions.
  • Niobium - not recommended for initial piercing, only for ones already healed.
  • Glass (Pyrex)
  • Wood & Other Natural Elements
  • Pure Platinum
  • Acrylic
  • White gold - only white gold that has been alloyed with palladium. There are two groups of white golds, the ‘nickel whites’ and the ‘palladium whites’. Information provided by Greg of http://www.kelticnations.com

these may be of interest:

The safest thing you can do, is invest in a nickel testing kit. http://www.allerderm.com/consumers/allertest.asp

 

Related Links:

Nickel alloy allergy information:
http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/nickel_allergy.html
http://www.uthouston.edu/hLeader/archive/allergy/001120/
http://public.bcm.tmc.edu/pa/nickel.htm
http://www.dermnetnz.org/dna.nickel.allergy/info.html
http://www.asthmaandallergycenter.com/nickel.shtml
http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9812/04/body.piercing/
http://www.piercing.org/faq/jewelry.html
http://www.kuluttajavirasto.fi/user_nf/default.asp?site=36&tmf=8579&lmf=8582&id=14261&mode=readdoc
http://encyc.bmezine.com/?Metal_Allergy

 

Information on content of metal in jewelry:
http://www.rings-things.com/SSQ.HTM
http://www.southcom.com.au/~davids/silverinfo.htm
http://www.rings-things.com/METALS.HTM
http://www.jjkgallery.com/index.html?/pages/more_jewellery.html&gallery
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/jewel/pages/gold.shtml
http://www.sndgems.com/platinumfacts.htm
http://www.noble.matthey.com/library/Platinum%20Jewellery%20Alloys_brochure_English_114.pdf
http://www.professionaljeweler.com/archives/articles/1998/apr98/0498fp1.html
http://encyc.bmezine.com/?Niobium


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