Approximately five to 10 percent of the population in industrialize areas have a nickel allergy, the most common metal allergy. It directly results in skin irritation and itching. According to Dr. Audrey Kunin, a board-certified dermatologist and president of DERMAdoctor, Inc., a skincare brand specializing in non-irritant treatments, habitual nickel exposure increases the risk of developing the allergy, which can start at any age. Under the Freedom to Accessorize Yourself With Glamorous Baubles Act (which doesn’t really exist, or not on paper, at least), the best way to overcome the allergy is to arm yourself with data before your next jewelry-shopping excursion. Here’s what you need to know:
Metal allergies can take a variety of different forms. Some people are only allergic to nickel, while others are allergic to copper, yet still, others may be allergic to any non-pure metal. Metal allergies often manifest as itchy skin, a rash, even blisters. For less pure metals and lesser allergies, the offending metal may simply stain the skin a green or dark grey color. Many people who suffer from metal allergies can stop their symptoms by switching to a purer metal, rather than an alloy. 24Kt Gold, Sterling Silver, and Stainless Steel are often touted as hypoallergenic metals. Let’s take a look at these and other options for hypoallergenic jewelry components.
For many people – an estimated 20% according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention – placing on a new necklace or another piece of jewelry and developing a rash isn’t uncommon. For the most part, this is due to a reaction to impurities in the metal, especially nickel.
However, sensitive skin doesn’t mean you have to give up wearing jewelry. There are plenty of fashionable and stylish options that are also hypoallergenic. So, if you find yourself developing a rash or irritation when wearing jewelry, consider shopping for these X metals when you buy your next piece.
Higher purity gold jewelry, such as 14kt or higher, is ideal for sensitive skin. However, it’s impossible to buy 100 percent pure gold. Gold is too soft in its pure form to make jewelry, thus gold alloys are used.
Gold plated jewelry is a budget-friendly option compared to gold, but you have to be careful when purchasing anything gold plated and do proper research. The main issue with gold plated jewelry is that is it mixed with other metals, some of which can cause an allergic reaction. However, so long as you pay attention to the metal composition of your jewelry, this is a great option for people with sensitive skin. To better help prevent a reaction, aim for gold-plated sterling silver when possible
While a bit rarer and more expensive than silver or gold, platinum is an extremely popular metal for hypoallergenic jewelry due to the fact that not only will it not cause rashes or irritations, but it is highly durable and resistant to wear and tear like corrosion. This means that if you’re looking for a pair to wear all the time, then platinum will be worth the investment.
Sterling silver is one of the most popular, budget-friendly options for sensitive skin. It’s also one of the most popular options for earrings. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5 percent of silver by weight, with the rest being composed with a variety of other metals such as copper, which rarely causes an allergic reaction. Despite the fact it is not as pure as fine silver, which contains a higher percentage of silver, sterling silver still has a beautiful appearance.
Very few people tend to suffer from allergic reactions when wearing titanium jewelry. In fact, it’s often praised as one of the most hypoallergenic options when compared to all other metals. It is non-reactive to almost all chemicals and other metals, so you don’t have to worry about it reacting with your skin or clothing. This means that it’s durable and won’t corrode.
Surgical Stainless Steel often marked as SSS, is one of the most popular materials for body jewelry and more complex body modifications such as industrial piercings. Most people who still suffer from allergic reactions when wearing even gold and sterling silver tend to not react to stainless steel, making it a great, affordable option for everyone.
Niobium is a metal that is frequently used in medical implants, similar to titanium, and is great for metal allergies. It is never painted or plated, the color is adhered to the metal by anodizing it in an electric bath. It does not have any additives, like nickel or lead, making it safe for people with metal allergies. The colors can be bright blues and yellows, or more natural grey, black, and copper tones.