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Monday, July 16, 2012

Wellness - Metal and Jewelry Allergies

Years ago I bought a pair of wire-rimmed glasses at a flea market. After wearing them for quite a while, I noticed that the skin behind my ears, where the frame wrapped around was red and itchy.  I cleaned the frames really well and even soaked the ear pieces in alcohol to be sure they were germ free.  The metal turned green after a while, the itching developed into a rash.  A similar rash appeared where the metal frame rested against my face at my temples.  The ear pieces turned black.  The rash became infected.  At that point, I went to a doctor and found I had a staph infection at the site.

In addition to this situation, I have encountered, several times in the past, a reaction seemingly to base metals.  I had jewelry that turned my skin green then black, caused a rash and infection set in.  I’m one of many people who can get a rash and infection if the metal button on jeans sits against bare navel. 

I once saw a 60 minutes segment about mercury in dental fillings.  The information about the mercury didn’t concern me so much as the fact that metal dental fillings are alloys of various metals and my mouth was full of them.  I’ve had most of my metal fillings removed and replaced with ‘ceramic’ fillings but not before encountering a dentist who became quite angry when asked about alloy fillings. She did a shoddy job in her anger, the filling overlapped my gum and, within a week, the gum became infected.  I saw a different dentist to have the filling removed and the infected gum treated. 

I don’t know how widely known it is that quite a few people have reactions – “allergies” – to metals.  Some jewelers, whose pieces I admire, use metals that I can’t wear.  Months ago I found a site that sells really gorgeous Wiccan jewelry; all of it made of metals that I can’t wear.

Nickel is apparently the primary culprit but is alloyed with many metals.  I can't wear copper (which is sold as therapeutic).  I have sensitivity to some grades of silver.  Most stainless steel is a problem for me.  I would imagine that bronze, brass, chrome, etc. would be disasters.  Anything that normally is easily oxidized and reactive, that acquires a patina over time, I can't wear.

This extract from WebMD gives a little more detail:

"Allergic Reaction to Metal - An allergic reaction to metal is an overreaction of the body's immune system to a substance (allergen) in a metal. An allergic reaction to metal can cause intense swelling, pain, and itching.

Nickel is the most common metal allergen. Jewelry that does not trigger an allergic reaction is made from:

Stainless steel (grade-300).
14- or 18-karat gold.
Dense, nonporous plastic, such as monofilament nylon, acrylic, or Lucite."

By           Healthwise Staff
Last Revised        September 7, 2010

"It is estimated that about 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel and about 1 - 3% of the general population is allergic to chromium and cobalt." - Buzzle

So, if you've noticed reactions to jewelry and other metal touching your skin, this is probably why.

Jewelers - be aware and be kind.

New in our Directory:

Union County listings including:

Just Bead Yourself
Betty's Chocolate Novelties
Cranford Vanilla Bean Creamery
Autumn Antiques
Betty Gallagher Antiques
Ken's Antiques
Ann Weiner Miniatures
Badawang Art
Center for Acupunture and Herbal Medicine
Heaven on Earth Massage
Westfield Yoga and Meditation Center


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