Nickel and Other Metal Allergies

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Once only featured in the "unusual cases" section of a dermatology manual, metal allergies are becoming more common - especially amongst men.
The ways in which metals come into contact with the body are many.
We have dental implants, artificial hip joints and pacemakers amongst medical usages and earrings, rings and studs amongst the uses of metals in jewellery.
What Is a Metal Allergy? A metal allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction caused by the contact between a metal such as nickel, gold or titanium and body tissues such as the skin and its secretions.
It is a surprise to many to hear that we can be allergic to metals since we see metals all around us seeming so inert and unchanging.
The key to understanding metal allergies is to realise that body fluids in contact with metals react chemically and can produce salts of the particular metal.
So a piece of jewellery made of nickel can react and form nickel salts which will irritate the skin.
The skin irritation will seem like any other inflamed tissue with pain and redness and may be treated in error for other causes since metal allergy is generally not regarded as common.
However testing has shown that even gold and titanium have allergenic potential.
With gold we have to look at how pure it is.
Pure gold is 24 carat and is too soft for many purposes.
Nine carat gold and white gold contain nickel but solid gold (12 carat and above) should be safe.
Most cases of gold allergy are in reality a nickel allergy.
Nickels' uses extend beyond jewellery to include personal items such as spectacles, watch straps and in clothing includes use in hooks, clips and buttons.
The common use of metals in the workplace in cupboard handles, tools, paper clips and in the home and especially in the kitchen makes it difficult for a sensitive individual to avoid over exposure.
If a nickel or other metal allergy is suspected then an allergist or other expert should be consulted to arrange an allergy test.
There are skin tests and blood tests available and only an allergy expert will be able to advise you on which one to go for.
As is usual with allergies your general health and diet is important.
Good advice and supplementation can help the body heal the damage and irritation produced by the metal but expert personal advice may be that the metal needs to be replaced with an alternative to which the individual is not sensitive.
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