Sharing stories, knowledge, and rants about living with metal allergies.

I Hate Nickel


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Avoiding Everything Shiny and Silver

Once I was diagnosed with a nickel allergy, my doctor gave me a pamphlet of common items I should avoid.  Jewelry and watches were the most obvious items.  Earrings, necklaces, and watches are notorious for causing a rash on an unsuspecting allergy sufferer.  However, the list doesn’t stop there – belt buckles, door knobs, chairs... Take a look around you and see if you can spot how many items around you are made out of metal.  I bet it’s a lot?  Metal is everywhere!  My daily task is to spot and avoid the items that potentially contain nickel.

How do I do that?!  Nickel is a very strong, cheap metal, and it's added to other metals to keep costs down and make the end product stronger.  Even stainless steel contains about 30% nickel.  Stainless steel is usually safe for nickel allergy sufferers because the nickel is very tightly bound; however, that will vary with the quality of the metal.  If it’s metal, it’s suspect.  Here is a sample list of some of the things that nickel allergy sufferers have to avoid:

  • Jewelry 
  • Belt buckles 
  • Buttons on jeans and shirts 
  • Zippers 
  • Keys 
  • Eyeglasses 
  • Metal tools 
  • Metal cooking utensils                         
  • Stainless steel pots and pans – even though it's stainless steel, cooking acidic foods will cause nickel to leach out of the pan into the food.
  • Some cosmetics
  • Insecticides
  • Batteries

The list is much longer than this, but that’s a good example.  The list my doctor gave me came from the makers of the allergy test I took.  Their updated list can be found here.  (I have to add a note that when I was diagnosed, this list had no mention of orthodontic equipment or of any dietary exposure, like it does now.  Have I mentioned how happy I am that doctors are being informed about this now? I am!) 

The take-away lesson: avoid all things shiny and silver!  Actually, avoid all things metal, regardless of color - nickel can be found in gold and copper.  If it’s metal, I assume it’s guilty of containing nickel and trying to kill me until proven innocent!