Nickel allergy is a harmful immune response of the body that arises if exposed to any product that includes nickel.
Nickel is a metal with a distinct silver color that is naturally present in the environment. It is also combined with other metals and utilized in creating various items such as:
- Eyeglass frames
- Orthodontic braces
- Clothing fasteners such as snap buttons, zippers and belt buckles
Trace amounts of nickel are also present in various foods including fruits, grains and vegetables. If an individual has this allergy, the immune system identifies nickel as a hazardous substance.
Chemicals are released by the immune system to fight the substances, thus starting an allergic response. Take note that this is the usual cause of an itchy rash. In addition, it triggers other skin changes such as blistering and redness.
If an individual develops nickel allergy, it is not likely to go away. A reaction can be prevented by avoiding all items and foods containing nickel.
What are the signs?
An individual with nickel allergy generally develops a skin reaction within 12-48 hours after exposure to an object that contains nickel.
The usual signs of an allergy include:
- Skin rash or bumps
- Dry skin patches that resembles a burn
- Redness or other changes in the skin color
- Blisters (severe cases)
The metal is also the main trigger for allergic contact dermatitis. If allergic to nickel, there is a localized response after exposure. Even eating trace amounts in some foods can instigate an immune response that results to skin changes.
The symptoms caused by allergic contact dermatitis include:
- Scaly, raw or dense skin
- Severe itchiness
- Warm, tender skin
- Discolored, dry or rough skin
- Blisters filled with fluid
In most cases, the rash generally lasts between 2-4 weeks after exposure.
Management of nickel allergy
Remember that there is no available cure for nickel allergy. Similar with other allergies, the ideal treatment is avoidance of the allergen.
The doctor might prescribe any of the following drugs to lessen the skin irritation:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory cream
- Corticosteroid cream
- Oral antihistamine
- Oral corticosteroid
The instructions given by the doctor on the dosage should be carefully followed if these are used.
Some of the home treatments that can help include:
- Moisturizing body lotion
- Calamine lotion
- Application of a moist compress
A doctor should be informed if these treatment options are not effective or the symptoms become worse. If there is increasing pain, redness or drainage of pus in the affected area, a doctor should be seen. These are signs of an infection and require treatment with antibiotics.