Gold Allergy?

By Heather Legg

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 – light headedness, dizziness, excessive yawning. Both of us could have each separately, but something about the combination…

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

12 Comments »

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.

November 19th, 2010 | 7:38 am
andrew:

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.

December 22nd, 2010 | 4:58 pm
Sue Dowson:

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.

January 11th, 2011 | 9:14 am
Selenea:

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.

February 6th, 2011 | 5:19 pm
Natalie:

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.

February 7th, 2011 | 4:36 pm
Amber Jacks:

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.

February 22nd, 2011 | 2:24 pm
Lizzie:

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.

March 5th, 2011 | 12:20 pm
Lauren:

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

March 11th, 2011 | 5:23 pm
Edwin Rodriguez:

Edwin Rodriguez…

[...]b Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thank you However I am experiencin ux[...]…

May 13th, 2012 | 5:02 am
mary maloney:

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

January 29th, 2014 | 11:17 pm

I signed to RSS on this blog. Will you post more about this subject?

November 12th, 2014 | 9:57 am

I have a friend who is SUPER healthy and every year she gets excited to have just 1 mcds shamrock shake! I am sending this to her!!

November 18th, 2014 | 6:21 pm
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