Nickel allergy

One of the most common causes of contact allergic dermatitis.

Dermatitis, also called eczema, develops where nickel-containing metal is touching the skin.

The most common sites for nickel dermatitis are the earlobes, the wrists and the lower abdomen, from earrings, watch straps and jean studs, respectively.

May be aggravated by contact with paper clips, instruments, metal fragments from a lathe or chain saw.

Affected areas become itchy, red and blister, acutely or dry, thicken and pigment with chronic dermatitis.

Contact allergic dermatitis to nickel may develop at any age.

Can persist for many years, and often be life-long.

Nickel is the most common metal sensitizer in humans followed by cobalt.

Metal allergies estimated for nickel range from 3% in men and 17% in women

More common in women, due to the likelihood to have more piercings than men.

The degree of allergy varies with development of dermatitis from even brief contact with nickel-containing items, to many years of exposure before eczema.

Some eczema patients develop intermittent or persistent lesions on their hands and feet, known as pompholyx or dyshidrotic hand dermatitis, and it may be due to nickel in the diet.

Nickel is present in most foodstuffs.

Nickel allergy is diagnosed by the clinical history and by patch tests.

Treatment is often necessary for nickel dermatitis and include: vinegar compresses to dry blisters, topical steroids, antibiotics for secondary infections, and emollient creams.

Avoid skin contact with nickel is required as allergy persists long- term.

Nickel-testing kits are available to test jewelry.

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