What does a nickel allergy rash look like

See a GP if you own persistent, recurrent or severe symptoms of contact dermatitis. They can attempt to identify the cause and propose appropriate treatments.

A GP may refer you to  a doctor who specialises in treating skin conditions (dermatologist) for further tests if:

  1. the substance causing your contact dermatitis cannot be identified
  2. your symptoms are not responding to treatment

Read about diagnosing contact dermatitis

Treating contact dermatitis

If you can successfully avoid the irritants or allergens that trigger your symptoms, your skin will eventually clear up.

However, as this is not always possible, you may also be advised to use:

  1. emollients – moisturisers applied to the skin to stop it becoming dry
  2. topical corticosteroids – steroid ointments and creams applied to the skin to relieve severe symptoms

If you own a severe episode of contact dermatitis and it covers a large area of your skin, a doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, but this is rare.

Read about treating contact dermatitis

Other types of eczema

Other types of eczema include:

  1. discoid eczema – circular or oval patches of eczema on the skin
  2. atopic eczema (also called atopic dermatitis) – the most common type of eczema; it often runs in families and is linked to other conditions, such as asthma and hay fever
  3. varicose eczema – this most often affects the lower legs; it’s caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins

Sheet final reviewed: 12 November 2019
Next review due: 12 November 2022


Nickel Allergy is a skin reaction of the immune system to the substance nickel.

It is one of the most common forms of allergic contact dermatitis in which skin gets inflamed due to the contact with nickel.

Nickel allergy is not curable and is not hereditary, it is caused by the prolonged and constant exposure of the skin to nickel. An individual can become allergic to nickel at any age.

Treatments can reduce the symptoms of nickel allergy; however, once you develop nickel allergy you will always be sensitive to the metal and should avoid contact.


If you own nickel allergy and you are exposed to a nickel containing item, the allergic reaction (contact dermatitis) generally begins within 12 to 48 hours after exposed.

The reaction may persist for as endless as two to four weeks. The features of contact dermatitis generally appear only where your skin came into contact with nickel, but they may appear elsewhere on your body.

Nickel allergy symptoms include:

— rash or bumps on the skin

— itching, which may be severe

— redness or change in the skin colour

— dry patches of the skin that may resemble a burn

— blisters and draining fluid in severe cases

Sweating at the point of contact with nickel may worsen the symptoms.

Belt Nickel Allergy

When to see a doctor

If you own a skin rash and don’t know how you got it, talk to your doctor.

If you own already been diagnosed with nickel allergy and are certain you are reacting to nickel exposure, use over the counter treatments and home remedies your doctor has recommended in the past.

What does a nickel allergy rash glance like

However, if these treatments don’t assist, call your doctor. If you ponder the area may own become infected, see your doctor correct away. Signs and symptoms that might indicate an infection include pain, increased redness, warmth or pus in the affected area.


An allergic reaction is somewhat love a case of mistaken identity within your body’s immune system. Normally, your immune system reacts to protect your body against bacteria, viruses or toxic substances.

If you own a nickel allergy, your body reacts to nickel possibility to other metals, such as cobalt and palladium.

In other words, it is a error identified nickel as something that could harm you. Once your body has developed a reaction to a specific agent (allergen) — in this case nickel — your immune system will always be sensitive to it. That means anytime you come into contact with nickel, your immune system will reply and produce an allergic response.

Your immune system’s sensitivity to nickel may develop after your first exposure or after repeated or prolonged exposure. Once you own sensitized to nickel, the immune reaction is generally faster each time you are exposed to the metal.

The cause of nickel allergy is unknown, but sensitivity to nickel may, in part, be inherited (genetic).

Source of Nickel exposure

As nickel is a silvery metal resistant to corrosion, it is used extensively in the manufacturing industry.

Above: Nickel in various forms (source www.daviddarling.info)

Nickel allergy is most commonlyassociated with earrings and other jewellery for body piercings that contain some nickel.

Common sources of nickel exposure include:

— jewellery for body piercings

— other jewellery, including rings, bracelet, necklaces and jewellery clasps

— watchbands

— clothing fastener, such as zipper, snaps and bra hooks

— belt buckles

— hairpins

— eyeglass frames

— coins

— kitchen utensils

— paper clips

— pens

— keys

— tools, such as hammers and screwdrivers

— dental fillings

— artificial body parts (prostheses), such as artificial heart valves

— drinking water

— alkaline batteries

— cell phones

Nickel is also found in foods, such as oatmeal, chocolate, beans and dried fruit.

Nickel may also be found in canned food. It you are allergic to nickel, enquire your doctor if a low-nickel diet might be helpful.


Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a nickel allergy, including:

having ear or body piercing: because nickel is common in jewellery, nickel allergy is most often associated with earrings and other body-piercing jewellery containing nickel. If the first jewellery you wear after a piercing contains nickel, your body is constantly exposed to the metal during the healing time.

And people who own piercing often wear jewellery every day. The more piercing you own, the greater your risk of developing a nickel allergy.

working with metal: if you work in an occupation that constantly exposes to nickel, your risk of developing an allergy may be higher than it is for someone who does not work with the metal.

What does a nickel allergy rash glance like

In addition, people who own a regular exposure to nickel while doing «wet work» — as a result of either sweat or frequent contact with water — may be more likely to develop nickel allergy. These people may include bartenders, people who work in certain food industries and domestic cleaners. Other people who may own an increased risk of nickel allergy include metalworkers, retail clerks and hairdressers.

being female: women and girls are more likely to own a nickel allergy than are men and boys. This may be because females tend to own more piercings and get them at a younger age.

being allergic to other metals: people who own sensitivity to palladium, cobalt or chromium may also be allergic to nickel.


Your doctor can generally diagnose nickel allergy based on your:

— skin’s appearance

— recent history of contact with items that may contain nickel

If the cause of the rash is not apparent, however, your doctor may recommend a patch test (contact hypersensitivity allergy test).

What does a nickel allergy rash glance like

He orshe may refer you to an allergy specialist (allergist) or a skin specialist (dermatologist) for this test.

Patch Test

During the patch test, extremely little quantities of potential allergens (including nickel) are applied to little patches, which are then placed on your skin to check for a reaction. The patches remain on your skin for two days before the doctor removes them. If you own a nickel allergy, the skin under the nickel patch will be inflamed when the path removed or in the days after removal of the patch.

Because of the low concentrations of allergens used, patch tests are safe even for people with severe allergies.


There is no cure for nickel allergy.

Once you develop a sensitivity to nickel you will develop a rash (contact dermatitis) whenever you come into contact with the metal.

What does a nickel allergy rash glance like

Once an allergic reaction to nickel exposure has begun, it will most likely continue for two to four weeks.


Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications to reduce and improve the condition of a rash from nickel allergy reaction:

— corticosteroid cream

— oral corticosteroid

— oral antihistamine


The best strategy to prevent developing nickel allergy is to avoid prolonged exposure to items containing nickel, especially jewellery.

If you own a nickel allergy, the best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid contact with the metal.

However, it is not always simple to avoid nickel because it is present in so numerous products and is sometimes even products labelled hypoallergenic.

The following tips may assist you avoid nickel exposure:

wear hypoallergenic jewellery: purchase jewellery that is made of materials that are not love to cause allergic reactions. Glance for jewellery made from such metals as nickel-free stainless steel, surgical-grade stainless steel titanium, 18-karat yellow gold, or nickel free 14-karat yellow gold, sterling silver, copper and platinum.

Avoid jewellery with nickel, as well as cobalt contain some nickel, but it is generally considered hypoallergenic for most people.

choose a piercing studio carefully: tattoo and body piercing studio regulations differ state to state.

What does a nickel allergy rash glance like

Contact your health department to discover out what rules apply to your area and be certain to select a reputable studio with licensed piercers.

— use substitute materials: glance for a safer substitute for common nickel-containing items:

— watchable made of leather, cloth or plastic

— zipper or clothing fasteners made of plastic or coated metals

— plastic or titanium eyeglass frames

create a barrier: if you own to be exposed to nickel at work, creating a barrier between you and the nickel may assist. If your hands own to touch nickel, wearing gloves may assist.

If you need to cover buttons or snaps, or tool handles, covering these items with duct tape may help.

Source: www.edition.cnn.com — Nickel Allergy

The followingvideo gives a brief overviewabout Nickel Allergy

The Facts

Metal hypersensitivity is a disorder of the immune system. It is a common condition that affects 10% to 15% of the population. It can produce a variety of symptoms, including rashes, swelling, or pain due to contact with certain metals (see the symptoms and complications section, below).

In addition to the local skin reactions, metal hypersensitivity can also manifest itself as more chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

What does a nickel allergy rash glance like

There are numerous local and systemic symptoms that, when considered together, can be caused by metal hypersensitivities.

It is estimated that up to 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel and that 1% to 3% of people are allergic to cobalt and chromium. These types of reactions can be localized reactions that are limited to one area, but they can also be more generalized and affect other more distant parts of the body.

When to see a pharmacist

Speak to a pharmacist if your contact dermatitis is troubling you.

They can recommend treatments such as emollients (moisturisers), which you rub on your skin to stop it becoming dry.

Find a pharmacy

Causes of contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can be caused by:

  1. an irritant – a substance that directly damages the outer layer of skin
  2. an allergen – a substance that causes the immune system to reply in a way that affects the skin

Contact dermatitis is most commonly caused by irritants such as soaps and detergents, solvents or regular contact with water.

Read about causes of contact dermatitis

Preventing contact dermatitis

The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to avoid contact with the allergens or irritants that cause your symptoms.

If you cannot avoid contact, you can take steps to reduce the risk of the allergens or irritants causing symptoms, including:

  1. changing products that irritate your skin – check the ingredients on make-up or soap to make certain it does not contain any irritants or allergens; in some cases, you may need to contact the manufacturer or check online to get this information
  2. using gloves to protect your hands – but take them off every now and again, as sweating can make any symptoms worse; you may discover it useful to wear cotton gloves underneath rubber gloves if the rubber also irritates you
  3. cleaning your skin – if you come into contact with an allergen or irritant, rinse the affected skin with warm water and an emollient as soon as possible
  4. applying emollients frequently and in large amounts – these hold your skin hydrated and assist protect it from allergens and irritants; you could also use emollient soap substitutes rather than regular bar or liquid soaps, which can dry out your skin

Symptoms of contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis causes the skin to become itchy, blistered, dry and cracked.

Lighter skin can become red, and darker skin can become dark brown, purple or grey.

This reaction generally occurs within a few hours or days of exposure to an irritant or allergen.

Symptoms can affect any part of the body but most commonly the hands and face.

Read about symptoms of contact dermatitis