ZocdocAnswersCan swallowing coins cause rashes on the body?

Question

Can swallowing coins cause rashes on the body?

My dad accidentally swallowed a nickel for a magic trick he was showing me. Then the next day, he had a pretty severe body rash. Was it caused by the coin? Either way, it should just pass through him without incident, right?

Answer

Rashes that may be associated with an allergy should be evaluated by a family doctor, dermatologist, or allergist. Allergies to nickel are very common. Many people cannot wear certain jewelry because they develop a rash when the nickel touches there skin. This rash is known as contact dermatitis. Rashes typically show up on the neck and behind the ears where necklaces and earrings touch the skin. There is some evidence that ingested nickel in foods may cause some of these rashes. However, a nickel (the coin) itself is only one quarter nickel (the metal) and it is not in a form that can be easily absorbed by the body. Since there are many more common reasons to develop this type of rash, I think the ingested nickel is less likely the cause (but not impossible). The answer to the second part of the question is yes, it should pass through him without much incident. I suggest that your dad schedule an appointment with his primary care physician to have a look at the rash. He or she can examine it and determine the origin. If necessary, you dad may get a referral to see a dermatologist. In the future, I would suggest your dad refrain from swallowing coins. Good luck.

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