Have you been diagnosed with a nickel allergy? I have, and trying to avoid it is not easy (it triggers off eczema on my hands). Unfortunately nickel is used in an awful lot of products these days. So if you have a nickel allergy, here are some of the things you should be wary of …
I suspected that I had a nickel allergy long before it was diagnosed, because if I wore a watch with a metal back it would always leave a circular mark on my wrist where the watch touched it. Avoid metal straps in case they have nickel in, and although metal backs often have a plastic film covering them it often wears off. The best straps if you have an allergy are those made of leather or plastic and that cover the back of the watch.
Jewellery is another culprit when it comes to nickel allergy. Even 9-carat gold and white gold may contain nickel, so your best bet is to go for a higher carat yellow gold or silver jewellery. Platinum, titanium and copper are also fine. Surgical-grade stainless steel is okay, but be very wary of any cheap jewellery. It's too annoying if you buy something that you can't wear!
Why do you think the nickel got its name? Because it does contain a percentage of nickel, although it's mostly copper. Other silver coins can also contain nickel. So if you're experiencing a mysterious skin reaction and you have to handle coins as part of your job, try wearing gloves and see if the reaction clears up.
Yes, even your cell phone may have nickel in it. Most of it will be inside the phone, but it may also be on the surface. Considering how often we touch our phones, you can see how it could be a problem if yours contains nickel and you're allergic. A cover and a screen protector should solve the problem, and next time you upgrade look for a model that is nickel-free.
There are a number of items in the home that may contain nickel, so watch out for anything you're touching. Kitchen utensils, cutlery, needles and cupboard handles are just some of the things that could contain nickel. Stainless steel shouldn't be a problem, unless it's nickel-plated.
Even innocent clothing items can contain nickel! Look for bras with plastic clasps, as the metal ones can contain nickel (and your bra is right against your skin). Metal zips, buttons, belts and hairpins are other potential suspects. If you wear glasses, plastic or titanium frames would be better.
I'm also suspicious of hand rails, since touching them can make my hands sting. And it turns out that they can contain nickel. So if your hands are feeling sensitive, avoid touching hand rails unless you're wearing gloves.
Having an allergy that affects your skin can mean a lot of trial and error. It's not always easy to tell what's causing the reaction, but if you can identify the triggers and limit your exposure it will help. You might have to ask a lot of questions before you buy products, but that's better than finding too late that it's causing your allergy. What surprising things are you allergic to?
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