Can You Be Allergic to Gold? (Reasons & Solutions)

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Jewelry allergies are common, and a substantial number of individuals are allergic to different metals, including precious metals. And if you are a jewelry enthusiast, especially one with sensitive skin, it means that you’d have to be a lot more careful with the jewelry options that you settle on.

Often, you’d be advised to wear higher karat gold jewelry to reduce metal allergies, but what happens when even the best of higher karat gold pieces could potentially result in allergies?

Well, keep reading to find out more. In this article, we’ll take a look at gold and also gold allergies and whether you could be allergic to gold or not. So, let’s get started with the basics.

 

What Is a Gold Allergy?

Can You Be Allergic to Gold

While most people are allergic to pollen, pets, dust, and food, among other allergens, others are allergic to gold. In such individuals, the gold allergies would trigger a wide array of allergy manifestations in the form of rashes and swell on the areas of your skin that make contact with the gold pieces.

Gold allergies are relatively uncommon, though, and in a 2001 study, it was found out that out of 4101 individuals tested for gold allergies, about 9.5% of the tested population was allergic to gold. Interestingly, more women than men tested positive for gold allergies.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that reactions to gold aren’t often the result of allergic reactions to actual, pure gold, but by the metals that could be present in the gold, specifically, nickel. The thing is that what manifests as a gold allergy is often an allergic reaction to nickel, which means that if you are allergic to nickel or other specific metals, contact with such kinds of metals is what would result in skin sensitivity reactions.

Also, gold allergies are quite rare, which often means that most of the supposed gold allergies are actual allergies to nickel present in the gold.

Can You Be Allergic to Gold

What does a gold allergy look like?

If you have a gold allergy, it will most likely result in a sensitivity reaction that manifests in different ways. Some of the symptoms of gold allergies include:

Redness, swelling, rashes, itching, peeling, blistering, and also dark spots. These symptoms could, however, range from mild to severe, and they may develop rather shortly after your skin comes in contact with the gold, and in other cases, after long-term exposure.

And if you wear gold jewelry, it’s important to keep in mind that the jewelry may result in skin discoloration, redness, or even itchiness on the finger. And if you wear gold earrings or necklaces, you may notice irritation on the neck or your skin.

What this means is that it might be hard for you to differentiate between gold allergies and all other allergies because you may attribute eczema symptoms or even the symptoms of contact dermatitis to gold allergies.

So, while the exact causes of the gold allergies aren’t well known, allergy symptoms often result from the immune system being overly reactive or sensitive to specific metals.

Can You Be Allergic to Gold

Why Does Gold Jewelry Cause allergy?

Ever wondered why jewelry cause rashes and other forms of allergies? Well, while the rashes you may have been experiencing are a form of extreme and rare gold allergies. The allergies often result from the metal alloys mixed with the gold. Often, the gold jewelry’s allergic reaction is because of an allergen, specifically, nickel.

Some of the reasons and causes of gold allergies include:

 

  • Nickel allergies

Gold, in its natural form, is rather too soft to be carved into jewelry, and the only way to strengthen the pure gold is to add in metal alloys. One of the most common metal alloys used is nickel. Essentially, nickel is often used in gold jewelry, but whether it reacts with nickel allergies or not is a factor that’s dependent on the percentage of nickel in the alloy.

Essentially, the lower purity gold alloys will have a higher percentage of nickel, which means a higher risk of nickel allergies. On the other hand, higher purity gold jewelry will have fewer traces of nickel, hence a lower risk of nickel allergies. This means that 18K gold contains fewer alloys and only trace amounts of nickel, hence low to no risk of allergies. 10K gold, on the other hand, have more alloys and subsequently a poor choice for persons with sensitive skin.

Keep in mind that nickel allergies or nickel sensitivities affect different individuals, but only if they have nickel in them. These allergies manifest as itchy rashes, and they are uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be painful.

 

  • Copper allergies

You could also be allergic to gold jewelry, not because of the gold but because of the copper incorporated into the gold.

In such cases, the gold jewelry would turn your skin green. It would not, however, cause pain, and the green discoloration or stain would fade away after some time.

However, that green tinge tells you that your body’s chemistry naturally reacts with the copper in the gold.

 

  • Gold Allergies

Though rare, you could be one of the few people who are actually allergic to gold. In such cases, you would be allergic to gold sodium thiosulfate.

The reason for this is that while metallic gold is known for the electrochemical nobility/ power it possesses and its non-reactive state, gold is largely a metal that is not allergenic. Contact dermatitis is, as a result, quite rare, not just to diagnose but also to prove. However, you may be allergic to gold sodium thiosulfate.

If this happens, you will experience contact dermatitis that manifests as popular pruritic rashes on the areas of the skin in contact with the gold. Gold is largely a potent sensitizer, only second to nickel sulfate, and you could be allergic to the gold.

Can You Be Allergic to Gold

Can you be allergic to 10k gold, and why?

Yes. People are often allergic to 10K gold because one of the metal alloys in the gold is nickel. The nickel in the gold is what results in the gold allergy, which often manifests as contact dermatitis. The higher percentage of metal alloys in the 10K gold translates to more allergic triggers.

 

Can you be allergic to 14k gold? Why?

Maybe and maybe not. The reason why this happens is that the 14k gold may have nickel, which results in skin allergies. But there are cases where the 14k gold doesn’t cause allergies, even in persons with sensitive skin. Often, this happens when the 14k gold is made without any nickel in the metal alloys. In the absence of nickel, the 14k gold wouldn’t result in allergies.

 

Can you be allergic to 14k white gold? And why?

Although 14k white gold is plated with non-allergenic rhodium, you could still be allergic to the white gold, especially when the plated rhodium layer wears off, exposing the white gold base metal with gold and nickel as part of the gold alloy. There are few instances where you would react to the plated layer.

 

Can you be allergic to 18k gold? Why?

Yes. It is a possibility to be allergic to 18k gold, but the chances are slim. The reason for this is that the 18k gold contains only trace amounts of nickel and other allergens in the gold. Therefore, unless you have extremely sensitive skin, you may not have an allergic reaction to the 18k gold.

 

Can you be allergic to 18k White gold? Why?

Yes, there is a possibility. The chances are, however, slim. If you have sensitive skin, the 18k white gold with rhodium plating might be the best option for you because it protects you from the base layer made of white gold.

Can You Be Allergic to Gold

Can you be allergic to 24k gold? Why?

No. 24K gold is made of pure gold, which is often free of impurities, meaning that you won’t have to struggle with allergies. The only problem is that this version of gold is too soft, and it won’t make jewelry, hence the need for metal alloys and for harder, higher-strength gold.

 

What to Do If You Have a Nickel Allergy?

  • Wear higher karat or higher grade gold jewelry, often the 18k gold. Buying higher karat gold jewelry is a great idea because it means that the gold contains only trace amounts of nickel, hence a lower risk of allergies. This means that you should avoid 10k and 14k gold and opt for 18k gold.
  • Avoid the gold plated jewelry.
  • Wear white gold – this is plated with the non-allergenic rhodium, hence a safer option for you.
  • Buy the hypoallergenic jewelry.

This is the best solution for you if you are not sure about the triggers that may affect your skin. Some of the best hypoallergenic metal options include platinum, surgical stainless steel, sterling silver, or titanium.

 

Conclusion

The risk of being allergic to pure gold is too low, but most of the gold alloys would cause allergies because of the presence of nickel in the alloy. To avoid allergies, avoid nickel-free pieces and the high-karat types of jewelry.

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