Gold Allergy?

I’m always finding new and weird allergies that someone has, whether it’s someone in my family, my friends, or myself. Me – I don’t just have the normal allergies like ragweed or pollen, I have things like wine and scallop combination reactions or an allergy to gold.

My gold allergy started when I was expecting my second daughter. The odd thing was, it was only on my ring finger. I had to take off my wedding and engagement rings, and even after she was born, couldn’t wear them. When I did, I was left with a bright red ring around my finger on the skin. It burned and cracked and itched. Eventually I changed my engagement ring to platinum and now wear my grandmother’s wedding band which is platinum. Another weird aspect of it, though, on my right hand, gold is fine. A few years ago, I tried gold again on my left hand (as I still have a very nice band that is in gold), and the rash came back. So much for that!

I had forgotten about this until the other day when I was with a friend of mine. She held  up her hands and said, “Look!” To my surprise, she had the exact same rash on both of her ring fingers, and she described the very same thing that had happened to me. She has worn gold all of her life, but over the past few months, had been getting the same reaction. She had stopped wearing the rings, applied cortisone and tried some other things, and it got a bit better. However, when she tried to wear her rings again, the burning and redness came back with a vengeance, so she has given up on her gold, too.

I remember asking my doctor who didn’t think much of it, just prescribed some cream. The same with my friend. She is looking into getting her rings dipped or sealed or something so she can wear them (she has beautiful jewelry), but for now, she’s jewelry free.

It is always interesting to me how you think you’ve got the strangest allergy around, then come to find out, you’re not the only one. The way I found out about my scallop/wine allergy was a waiter in a restaurant who had the same odd reactions, and we compared notes on foods. He said that’s exactly what happened to him if he had scallops with wine – lightheadedness, dizziness, excessive yawning. Both of us could have each separately, but something about the combination…

Most people are not actually allergic to gold, but to nickel that is added to gold to make it more suitable for wearing as jewelry. However, small percentage of people are indeed affected by allergy to gold itself. (Gold allergy does exist, says scientist)

In a more likely case that you are actually allergic to nickel…

What is a nickel?

Nickel is a common cause of allergic skin rashes. Nickel can be found in materials made of metal such as jewelry (rings, bracelets, necklaces), items that you wear (metal zippers on clothes, bra hooks, clips, hair-pins, buttons, studs, eyeglass frames, , belt buckles), accessories and personal articles (lipstick holders, powder compacts, watch straps, cigarette lighters, razors, keys, key rings, pocket knives, pens), metal items at home (keys, doorknobs, cupboard handles, kitchen utensils, cutlery, toaster, metal teapots, scissors, needles, pins, thimble), silver coins, or items at work (paper clips, typewriter keys, instruments, metal tools).

What causes a nickel allergy?

Prolonged contact of the nickel-containing material directly on your skin causes an allergic rash on the area of contact.

Also, some environmental factors may aggravate a nickel allergy including sweat, humidity, temperature, and the general skin condition of the person. Sweat or moisture of the skin upon contact with the metal item can cause irritation and also trigger the nickel allergy.

The popularity of body piercing has increased cases of allergic contact dermatitis caused by nickel. Those in occupations with relatively heavier exposure to metal, such as hairdressers, dressmakers, cleaning crews, mechanics, and hospital staff, are more likely to develop a nickel allergy.

On most jewelry, nickel is mixed with other metals to create an alloy. Even if the item is claimed to be a 14-karat gold piece or made of pure sterling silver, there might still be a chance that it contains enough nickel to trigger a reaction.

What are the symptoms?

Allergic contact dermatitis is a type of skin rash that appears red, swollen, scaly, and blistered, depending on the severity. The shape of the rash takes the shape of the metal material. A reaction to the metal strap of a watch will leave a red swollen rash around the wrist area. Cashiers who are allergic to silver coins will develop skin rashes on their hands. Those allergic to the metal alloy in some eyeglasses will have red rash marks on areas where the metal part of the eyeglass frame touches the skin. The rashes should clear up once the allergenic material is not in contact anymore with the skin.

How can a nickel allergy be treated?

In the case of an allergic reaction, simply remove the metal item that caused the allergy, and apply a topical cortisone cream or lotion on the rash to make the swelling subside.

A low-nickel diet is usually recommended for those with nickel sensitivity. You can eat anything except canned foods (canned fruits, spaghetti, baked beans, and vegetables), green beans, broccoli, peas, dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate. Recommended foods to eat are proteins and dairy products (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, margarine), carbohydrates (cereals, bread, flour, rice, pasta), cereals and grains, vegetables, (beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, spinach), fresh fruits, tea, coffee, soft drinks, cordials, beer, and wine.

Avoid metals that contain nickel. This is the best way to prevent allergy symptoms. Instead of hassling yourself in nursing an allergic skin rash, use a nickel test kit to check if a metal item contains nickel before you use it.

Allergies to metal in the mouth

People usually know if they have allergies to certain metals, like those used in jewelry.

Unfortunately, the same metals could cause the same problem inside their mouth but such type of allergic reaction often goes undiagnosed as it mimics the gum disease.

When Cate Bennett’s dental problems led to an infection and severe reactions in her mouth, she didn’t know what the cause of her problems was.

Her dental problems also led to an embarrassing moment when eating out with friend. “The first bite I took of the salad, I watched my crown fall out in the salad bowl. And I was so embarrassed,” says Cate.

When Dr. Joseph Kravitz saw Cate’s gum tissue and crowns, he immediately recognized the problem. It turned out that Cate’s allergy to certain metals in jewelry also caused allergic reactions to the metal of the crowns inside her mouth.

Dr. Kravitz said that 80 percent of the people that have skin allergies, they also have the same problems in their mouth.

Researches have showed that 6 percent of men and up to 16 percent of women have allergy to metals that are used in crowns and dentures.

Simplest solution to these dental allergies is to change metal crowns with all ceramic ones and the allergic reaction usually disappear within a day.

Allergies are strange, but it helps to talk about them, because you never know who may have the same thing, and maybe they have found something that works!

14 comments

  1. You don’t have a gold allergy– you have an allergy to some other metal in the gold alloys. For most people, that’s nickel.

    Gold is reacts with almost NO other chemicals– including those found in your skin, etc.

  2. i agree, it is EXTREMELY unlikely you are allergic to gold…BUT 13% of the population (mostly women) are allergic to nickel (or more precisely, allergic to nickel-salts that form when the nickel corrodes)

    Also for some reason this allergy seems to sneak up on people.

    I would recommend washing your ring very throughly with hot water and a tooth brush, then blasting the ring with a heavy dose of WD-40. WD-40 is a Water Displacer (hence WD)

    then try wearing it again, but be careful to not get it wet or get hand cream etc on it.

  3. I can see what Kevin and Andrew are saying but I have to agree with Heather. I have exactly the same reaction but only on my right hand. I have worn my grandmother’s engagement ring for over 40 years but now find that my little finger has a nasty patch of dry, itching, flaking, cracking skin adjacent to where the ring sits on my ring finger. I left the ring off for a few days and there is a slight improvement but today, I put on a different ring and within hours I developed a red mark on the ring finger itself. No problem at all with my wedding and engagement rings on my left hand. I will try the WD40 and report back.

  4. Unlike what some people believe it is possible to be allergic to gold. It’s rare but some people like myself are born with this allergy. As a child i had a 12 carrot pair of ruby ear rings and i wore them all the time. When i was given a pair of 24 carrot gold ear rings i had a sever reaction and ended up with an infection in my ears.When my pediatrician was consulted they told me with the reactions and the fact that i had never reacted to anything else, including cheap ear rings, it had to be the gold. I am still able to wear the 12 carrot earrings, but anything above that and I have a reaction to.

  5. I had the exact same thing happen to me when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was wearing my gold engagement ring and my finger broke out in an itchy, flaky, and painful rash. Once I stopped wearing gold the rash cleared up (but I do now have a scar). I asked my doctor and he said that it may have been the imbalance of hormones from pregnancy, but, over a year later, I still am unable to wear gold.

  6. I too am allergic to gold. And yes, I’m allergic to the gold, not the nickel or anything else. I know it’s rare but it does occur. I can’t wear gold anywhere. I had to have my husband take in my wedding rings today to have them replated. The rhodium had worn off inside and I have a rather painful red rash exactly where my ring sits.

    I agree that most gold allergies are not truly gold allergies… but if you can wear surgical steel and wear pretty much any brand of deodorant then Nickel is not your culprit.

  7. I would like to second what Amber said above. I have a severe allergy to gold – NOT nickel – that I inherited from my father. He was unable to wear his wedding ring throughout his marriage to my mother because of a severe allergy, but a cheap silver band bought at a Native American festival was a fine substitute for him. I am able to wear cheap, junky jewelry, belt buckles made with any cheap nickel-containing alloy, silver, etc. with no issues, but gold causes a severe rash that can result in pain or scarring. I discovered this after the rhodium plating wore off the inside of a ring. (I really only wore silver jewelry, or earrings made of surgical steel, prior to that one ring.) I also have an autoimmune disease, which may be part of the reason my allergy is so severe. My allergy was diagnosed by my doctor, who confirmed based on the things I’ve said and others have said, that it definitely isn’t a nickel allergy. I had a coworker who was allergic to nickel, and she couldn’t even use the cheap cafeteria “silverware” without having a reaction. There is a big difference.

  8. I have had similar odd gold allergy issues. I was fine with my white gold engagement ring until the rhodium plating wore off (and for some reason a yellow gold ring I wore years ago gave me no problems). Since I have always had sensitive ears I wanted to get allergy patch testing done to make sure I wasn’t allergic to any other metals before spending the money to change the setting. With the three different tests for gold I was found to severely gold allergic. I also found out I was allergic to some metal alloys commonly combined with steel. If you are unsure about a metal allergy I really recommend doing it, it’s a huge pain since you have to go three times and you can’t get your back wet for days, but the information is very valuable and with a referral from my doctor insurance covered it. This is where I went:
    http://www.massgeneral.org/dermatology/services/treatmentprograms.aspx?id=1123

  9. Pingback: Edwin Rodriguez
  10. I has a rash near my eye then also appeared next to my mouth. After several months, Including a dermatologist, I saw an allergist and had the patch test.Found out Im highly allergic to gold. My fingers or neck never broke out. I thought I was allergic to nickel until this test. It also showed I was slightly allergic to zinc, chrome and germanium

  11. Mary Maloney, you are probably allergic to metals in your cell phone. I just finished the allergy patch testing and I am severely allergic to gold, nickel and cobalt. I have had extreme cracked, bleeding, dry, itching on my palms and fingers for about 3 1/2 years. Doctors just gave me cortisone and steroidal ointments which just made it worse. Now I finally know what’s wrong and can take steps to heal my pathetic hands.

  12. It is possible to be allergic to gold. I’ve been allergic to nickel since I was young. I had my daughter 1/2015, and was having different breakouts on various parts of my body. I had the patch test done by an allergist 2 months ago. And I am, indeed, allergic to gold, and nickel (which I already knew).

  13. I have had the doctors puzzled for years on the exact same issue.

    It is a heavy metals allergy a reaction form possible fillings in your mouth. considered to affect the auto immune system.

  14. You can be allergic to gold! A lot of people don’t believe it but I had a 3 Day allergy testing at my dermatologist and I reacted worst to gold!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *