Metal allergy can be evident in ear piercings or anywhere the skin is exposed to metals such as necklaces, watches or other jewelry. This type of allergic reaction is commonly called as contact dermatitis and brought about by the reaction of the body to the impurities in metal products.
This skin condition can be managed by avoiding the irritant jewelry and applying local creams to soothe the inflammation. An individual with metal allergy must use earrings that are hypoallergenic.
What are the causes?
The difference with other allergic reactions such as hives or asthma that arises right after exposure to the irritant is that contact dermatitis forms slowly and takes time to vanish.
The immune system might react to the impurities in jewelry and trigger the distinctive rash of contact dermatitis. Several metallic-alloy earrings include varying amounts of admixed nickel. The nickel can trigger reactions in many individuals and the usual cause of contact dermatitis.
What are the signs?
The indications of contact dermatitis due to metal allergy typically arise 2-3 days after exposure to the metal. When it comes to earrings, the rash generally develops around the site of the piercing.
The affected skin becomes elevated, reddened and itchy with small-sized blisters that form and seep watery fluid. In severe cases, the skin turns leathery and cracked. The rash is often worse during the summer since sweating will allow the irritants to penetrate deep into the skin.
A vital approach in the management of contact dermatitis due to metal allergy is avoidance of the irritating substance. In most cases, a steroid cream can hasten the recovery.
In case the rash continues despite these measures, a dermatologist should be consulted to identify the other substances that triggers a reaction, usually done via skin testing. Once identified, they should be avoided to prevent the recurrence of the skin.