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More thoughts about nickel allergies

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As I mentioned before, I am one of the many people who is sensitive to nickel.

I don’t know whether it’s all because my first pierced earrings were cheap, because up till the time I got my ears pierced, I seldom wore much jewelry. I’ve been trying to think back before that to remember if I ever got the itchies from something I wore, and I just don’t remember.

I had a nice neck chain that was supposed to be “rhodium plated” that made my neck itch like nobody’s business, but I think I got that after I had my ears done. I know I owned it in the same town we lived in when I got my ears pierced for the first time, but that’s as close as I can come on the timeline. Rhodium is related to platinum and it is supposed to be nonallergenic. Whether the manufacturer of the chain was a bit less than honest about the contents of the plating or whether I truly do react to rhodium, I don’t know. I have avoided rhodium plated jewelry like the plague ever since.

Of new holes and old

I got the first ear piercings done when I was sixteen. Two friends and I went to a local doctor’s office to have it done, and we were told to bring our own earrings. Foolishly, I trusted my mother to buy the earrings for me, and she just flat-out didn’t listen to the instructions. I was suposed to have plain gold balls. She bought daisies, made of who knows what. By the time I saw what she’d bought, it was too late to get replacements. The result of that was pretty much a foregone conclusion–I got horrible red crusty patches behind the earrings and ended up having to take them out and put lengths of nylon guitar string through the holes to keep them open while they healed enough to put new earrings in. Ugh.

However, those holes have stayed with me all these years and have never closed up. I can’t say the same for the second set of ear piercings I got. Of course, I got the second set done at an earring shop, with a piercing gun. I don’t think most people knew what a bad idea that was, at the time. Those holes tend to close up if I don’t wear earrings for more than a few days, which is a real nuisance.

The third ear piercings are right next to where the cartilage begins, on the outer edge of my ear. They were done by a professional piercer and (as one would expect) caused me the least pain and the fewest problems. Those holes don’t close up, but they do narrow down.

On finding good earrings

When you’ve got nickel allergy, finding good earrings isn’t always easy. Even the ones labeled “for sensitive ears” sometimes give me problems. I’ve had horrible reactions from ear posts labeled “surgical stainless steel.” On our recent vacation I wore one such pair by mistake and arrived at our destination with the second ear holes hurting and mostly swollen shut. Sigh. I have gold earrings from Tiffany’s in New York, that my aunt gave to me, that I can’t wear without coating the posts with clear nail polish. It seems as though neither price nor material is any guarantee.

So what do I wear when I want to be sure nothing’s going to happen? Titanium ear studs from the Fire Mountain Gems catalog. They don’t hurt. They don’t itch. The problem is, they are small and rather blah looking (even though they come in several colors). I need to find a source for more decorative, guaranteed nonallergenic earrings. If you can’t find ’em at Tiffany’s, where on earth can you go?

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Author: infmom

I got my first tattoo when I was 46. I hope the people who read this blog don't have to wait that long. I love talking about body art.

19 Comments

  1. Pingback: Nikel allergies | Keritesorszag

  2. Thanks for this post, now i understand this whole thing better.Keep ’em coming!!!

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  7. Pingback: Metal Allergies | Dee's Adornments

  8. Thank you for the great information, Waheeda!

  9. I have the same problem,never knew what I had till I was an adult but I have tried everything above and more and have found my cure! I only wear GOLD and the problem is gone never had a reaction from it. Gold plated doesn’t work the same needs to be 14k gold or higher. As well never reacted from my yellow gold nose piercing! On the odd occasion I want to wear a fake pair of earrings I use a topical mild steroid cream from my doc before wearing and after taking it off and it’s my miracle cream. Mind you I can’t wear fake jewelery for long periods of time but this does the job for the occasion. As well jus a warning the steroid cream is not not not for everyday as steroid creams can thin your skin it’s jus for every blue moon you may want to change ur jewelery for that special occasion! Hope this is of help x

  10. Pingback: Metal Allergies « Dee's Adornments

  11. hi i too suffer from nikel allergy im 27 and developed it about a year ago it makes me very depressed apparently it is not actually an allergy it is the body producin too much nikel a lady told me the followin supplements helped to practically cure hers b2, b12 iron and copper which i have just started takin ill try anythin to get rid of it. Hope this helps someone.

  12. you know what i hate about nickel allergy?…No one understands it… I suffer from extreme nickel allergy…. so bad that my whole body gets covered in blisters and stays that way for weeks…..and the pain is unbearable…theres not even a support group for those of us who suffer…so thanks for the few posts you have about your allergy…and for those of you ..like me who can’t even carry loose change in your pockets…just know you are not alone

    • I’m so sorry it’s so bad for you. I think you’re right, though, that a lot of people just don’t understand. You would think there would be more understanding and education and support available because this has to be a common problem. We come in contact with nickel in so many ways and it seems like it’s incredibly easy to get sensitized.

  13. I have a serious nickel allergy, and have found one very reliable source of jewelry that doesn’t make me itch. They have lots of different styles, and it’s all cheap. Unfortunately most of it also looks cheap, but it’s by far the best source I’ve found aside from body jewelry. The website is http://www.simplywhispers.com

    • I used to get their catalog, but somehow or other I never found much to order from them. Their styles and mine didn’t match, I guess.

      Still, that’s a valuable resource for people who can’t find compatible earrings in the stores. Even the ones that supposedly are “nickel free” sometimes irritate my ears.

  14. I have tried niobium and titanium and have done OK with both. I bought several sets of titanium earstuds from the Fire Mountain Gems catalog and use those for everyday wear.

  15. Have you had any luck with niobium? Or do you end up wanting to claw your ears off in half an hour?

    • I just installed a “reply to comments” plugin, so my apologies if you see this answer twice. 🙂

      I’ve tried both niobium and titanium and have had good luck with both. I buy earstuds from the Fire Mountain Gems catalog for everyday use. I’ve also bought niobium earrings from the Nature’s Jewelry catalog.

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