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?