Are Nickel-free Earrings Good for Sensitive Ears?

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Are nickel-free earrings good for sensitive ears? Getting the right kind of metal for earrings is vital for those with sensitive skin. You want to look good without having to worry about an allergic reaction that will send you to the doctor’s office.

It’s for this reason that more people are choosing to be more cautious about the types of earrings they go for. One such metal they wish to avoid is nickel as some people tend to be sensitive to it.

Here, we are going to look more into what nickel-free earrings are, and what metal is right for you.


What are nickel-free earrings made of?

The question of what constitutes for nickel-free jewelry varies depending on where you are. What it means in the USA is not the same as in the EU. There are some unfortunate differences between the two. Let’s explore that further.

In the US, anything can be labeled as nickel-free, even if it does contain nickel. You will commonly find cheap jewelry often at discounted prices being labeled as being free of nickel when that’s not the case.

The base metal is often combined with nickel because the metal is resistant to corrosion even in high temperatures. The reason why there is rampant mislabeling is that there are no regulations in the US jewelry industry with regards to the amount of nickel that can be contained within a single piece of jewelry or earring in this case.

About three to four percent of the population get born with nickel sensitivity, and the number goes up by 20 percent when someone gets their first piercing. That’s because once the piercing or wound gets exposed to the nickel, one gets an allergic reaction. The top cause of nickel allergies in the US has to do with earrings and piercings.

In the EU, things are very different. There is the EU Nickel Directive that regulates the amount of nickel that can be in both ear-piercing studs and other jewelry.

For earrings, to be considered nickel-free, it ought to have less than 0.05 percent nickel. Even then, in the past decades, the quantity has gotten reduced to what it is now. What they use to determine these figures is finding out how much nickel gets absorbed into the body over time and then make necessary adjustments.

If you want to get earrings that are genuinely nickel-free and made from metals of your choice, then it is best to ask whether the earrings meet the EU Nickel Directive before making a purchase.

That way, you don’t wind up with an allergic reaction. Symptoms that you’ve been affected happen within hours or days of exposure include bumps or rashes on the skin, itching, a change in skin color, dry patches on the surface, and in severe cases, blisters and draining fluid. If this happens, take off the jewelry and seek medical attention.


Are nickel-free earrings good for sensitive ears?

From the discussion above, the reasonable way to go is to get nickel-free earrings. Anything that does not contain nickel is ideal for sensitive ears.

However, that’s not the case all through. An earring could be nickel-free, but one still gets an allergic reaction.

Some people do have reactions to other metals even though they don’t contain nickel. One such example is there are those allergic to silver or gold.


Pros and cons of nickel free earrings


  • They are good for sensitive skin
  • You can wear them for an extended period without getting a skin irritation
  • You can get them in a variety of base metals and plating


  • They lack the high corrosion resistance that nickel tends to have


What is the best metal for sensitive ears?

You can’t try everything in the market to find out what metal suits your sensitive ears. It would mean spending tons of money and quite a while getting the right thing for you, which you don’t want. If you have sensitive ears, then there are some metals that you can try to save you the time. Let’s look at them below.

Titanium: When getting titanium earrings, you want to get one that is a medical grade or implant grade. The other thing is that it is generally recommended for those who have concerns about nickel sensitivity. However, don’t merely reach for anything that is only labeled ‘titanium’ as it could have other alloys. When it’s medically or commercially approved titanium, then you’re assured that it won’t tarnish, rust, or corrode as it’s non-reactive to almost all chemicals it’s exposed to.

Platinum: This metal is also ideal for those with sensitive ears, but it ought to be in its unalloyed state. It is exceptionally non-reactive, which makes it compatible with the skin and body. The only drawback with platinum is that it’s super expensive, so it’s not practical for the average customer to get.

Gold: When gold is nickel-free and is 14k or higher, then it’s considered to be ideal for sensitive ears. You should be earing of gold-filled, gold plated or gold overlay jewelry as these tend to fade, and the base coating is left bare. With time when the gold layer has worn off, you’ll be left at the mercy of what’s underneath.

Niobium: You can also get niobium it not in an alloyed state; that is, it’s all-natural. When it’s like that, it’s inert, and so it won’t react in the human body. The other good thing about niobium is that you can change it from its naturally blueish color into a gold ton without adding other metals to it, such as electroplating. The transformation gets purely achieved from putting the metal in a solution of water and soap and running an electrical current through it even after it remains pure, non-reactive, and non-allergenic.

Sterling silver: Another safe bet for those with sensitive ears is sterling silver. Do note, though, that it is not made of 100 percent silver as that is too soft to make jewelry. You’ll find that it instead has 92.5 percent pure silver, and the rest are alloys. Ensure that you get the right thing by only purchasing products that have the 925 stamps on it as proof of its authenticity.

Note: Even though a piece of jewelry is labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ doesn’t mean that it can’t cause an allergic reaction. It only means that it is less likely for it to produce an allergy. What you should look for instead are ‘biocompatible’ earrings. What that means is the material can stay within an organism or living tissue and not cause harm.



Those who can wear costume jewelry do have an easier time as they don’t have to worry about allergies brought about by nickel. For those who’ve always had issues with earrings after a piercing, then they do have to be more mindful.

We hope that this article has given you a high starting point about what to get. As always, remember to deal with certified jewelers or companies that have a proven track record of providing customers exactly what they ask for.

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