ZocdocAnswersWhy do I get a red, itchy rash when I wear belts?

Question

Why do I get a red, itchy rash when I wear belts?

I am an 18 year old girl, and the belts that I wear have metal buckles. The rash is red and it's hot. After a day or two, the rash gets scabby. I apply a calming lotion to it to try and get rid of the rash, and it usually starts working after 3-4 days. I believe I have gotten this rash from rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings too.

Answer

This rash you are describing is almost certainly an allergic reaction to the metal in your belt buckle. "Belt buckle dermatitis" is a very common form of contact dermatitis that occurs when immune cells in your skin set up a reaction to nickel or one of the other components of the metal. Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for this type of reaction; if you are reacting in this way to your belt buckle (and other jewelry as well) then you will likely continue to do so for the rest of your life. Wearing only hypoallergenic or stainless steel jewelry will help. Additionally, in the immediate term while the rash is healing up, you can apply an over the counter anti itch or steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone, to speed the healing. Avoid scratching the area, as this can lead to open areas of skin and predispose to a skin infection. Very rarely, the reaction to the metal can be quite severe, with areas of blistering and severe redness. If this occurs despite using the steroid cream and removing the metal, or if you have spreading redness or fever, you should get in to see your primary care doctor right away.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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