Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why are some people allergic to nickel jewelry?"
Ever since I developed a rash around my ring finger, my doctor diagnosed me as having a nickel allergy. Why now, when I'm 62?! I read a study where they helped allergic kids become desensitized to peanuts. Could I do the same thing with nickel to overcome the allergy?
Allergies are one of the most common reasons that people seek medical advice. The doctors who will be well qualified to discuss this issue with you include your dermatologist or your primary care doctor. Nickel and other metal allergies are very common and, unfortunately they can develop at any time during life. Metal allergies involve a gradual sensitization of a type of the body's immune cells, call T cells, to the metal. The symptoms include reddening of the skin, scaling, at itching at the point of contact between the metal and the skin. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a metal allergy like a nickel allergy. After the initial symptoms subside (with the help of a steroid cream, for example) the only definitive treatment is to avoid the metal for life. Hypoallergenic jewelry will be required. Peanut allergies are a different type of allergy, caused by antibodies. Antibody mediated allergic reactions are responsive to desensitization, but metal allergies are not an antibody reaction and so this therapy does not help. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular skin concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor or your dermatologist might be advised.
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