All this time I thought I was allergic to my watch because my skin around my wrist would turn black after I wear it. The staining was frequent although my skin wasn’t affected in any other way. It didn’t itch, hurt, turn red, or swell. Nothing. I have a yellow gold and steel watch so I foolishly concluded, hey, I’m allergic to gold! I thought this DESPITE wearing gold jewelry on my hands, neck, and ears, and never having a reaction.
Now I know I am a doofus. Yes, many people are allergic to specific metals and staining is often believed to be some kind of indication of this. But the truth is, discoloration is caused by the reaction of certain metals again skin, like oxidation of the metal from perspiration. Hello, I am a sweat hog.
Here’s how you can tell if you are really allergic.
Real metal allergies can cause the skin to turn red, itch, swell, blister, and sometimes leave a rash. Think itchy earlobes. A jewelry allergy can occur anywhere on your body. I don’t know about the tongue though. You are on your own on that one.
The most common jewelry allergy is to nickel. It’s a metal that is often mixed with other metals. Nickel is also in a lot of things we use that touches our skin like earring posts, eyeglass frames, zippers, and costume jewelry.
If you are one of the 15% of the American population who is allergic to nickel, the easiest thing to do is avoid German silver, nickel silver, and most costume jewelry because they use nickel as a filler. Switching to metals that are purer in form is a good preventive measure and a good excuse to buy/demand better quality jewelry! “I’m sorry, honey, I can only wear gold/platinum/titanium. I seem to be allergic to that silver thing…” Investing in finer pieces is a lovely option.
It’s also a good idea to keep all your jewelry clean, free of tarnish. If you have to wear the reaction pieces, then wear them for short periods of time and make sure your skin is dry. You can also ask a jeweler to see if a protective layer of film or metal can be added to the parts that touch skin. I heard clear nail polish can work too.
Then there is the hypoallergenic jewelry, or jewelry that is made out of pure metals such as platinum, 18k gold, titanium, copper, and stainless steel, and sterling silver. ApplesofGold.com has a wide variety of these fine metals.