Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What indicates an allergic reaction to jewelry?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat indicates an allergic reaction to jewelry?


After 30 years of marriage, I can no longer wear my gold ring because my skin reacts so badly! Is this a metal allergy! If so, is there anything I can do to suppress that response or protect my skin from the gold?


Metal allergy is a common cause of a skin condition called "contact dermatitis". This is a rash that appears only in the location where the jewelry is in contact with the skin. The rash can be very itchy, red, and irritating. The most common metal allergy is an allergy to nickel. Nickel can be found in all forms of metals such as in belt buckles, metal buttons found on jeans, buckles or metal details on shoes, earrings, bracelets, watches, necklaces, keys, cellphones. Costume jewelry typically is made of nickel though nickel can be a common alloy of gold jewelry as well. In order to determine if you have what is called a "contact allergy" whether it is to nickel or another form of metal, it is important to see a skin doctor (a dermatologist) who will evaluate the reaction that you have been experiencing to your ring. Your physician may consider patch testing you for allergens that you may have an allergy to. One can develop a contact allergy at any time and despite having the ring for over thirty years, it is still possible to develop an allergy. If you are found to have a allergy to nickel, there are kits that can be purchased that help test products for the presence of nickel. You can ask your dermatologist about the utility in obtaining such a kit.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.