There are a myriad of things that happen in your life that leave you wondering if you had it all right the first time.
Such events are always so confusing, especially when it is something that affects your body. Sudden allergic reactions to earrings that you have had on for months is one such confusing thing.
And so, in this article, we endeavor to determine if it is possible to become suddenly allergic to earrings, why this happens in the first place, and what you can do about it.
So, let’s get into it!
Can you all of a sudden become allergic to Earring?
Unfortunately, the answer to this is yes. And this means that even if you always invest a good chunk of money into your jewelry that is supposedly safe on the skin, there is a risk of the earrings causing an allergic reaction after some weeks or months.
But it’s not that you have suddenly become allergic to the earrings; it’s more about you’re the microscopic nickel or other metal allergen molecules in the earrings slowly wearing out, therefore exposing your skin to the tiny nickel molecules present in the otherwise good piece of jewelry.
This tends to happen whenever you wear your favorite piece of jewelry for a longer period. So, if you have earrings that you have worn essentially forever, there is always a slight chance that you could become allergic to them, albeit suddenly.
Bear in mind that nickel allergies are common at the end of the day. They involve very minute nickel particles, which, upon being in direct contact with the skin, whether as jewelry, snaps, zippers, watches or even eyeglasses, will force the body to launch an allergic reaction that manifests as itching or rashes for most people.
Nickel allergies are also quite common, and it has been documented that about 10% of all Americans have nickel allergies.
Can you suddenly become allergic to sterling silver or gold jewelry?
For the most part, nickel allergies or nickel-sulfate contact dermatitis tends to be limited to the objects of jewelry with the highest nickel content and, therefore, familiar with all manner of costume jewelry and watchbands.
But finer jewelry varieties also present this problem many months or years later, especially with prolonged contact with such objects, and that will cause a rash.
Gold and sterling silver jewelry are not spared.
These high-value pieces of fine jewelry often wear out with time, albeit invisibly. So, after many years in what may seem like forever, the microscopic nickel particles ultimately come to the surface, form nickel sulfate, and elicit an allergic reaction.
For gold jewelry, 24k gold jewelry has the lowest risk of causing allergies, but because of the need to harden this very soft, precious metal, 14k and 18k gold jewelry tend to have some nickel snuck in.
Ultimately, this will cause an allergic reaction. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the purity level of gold, the lower the risk of allergies or the presence of nickel. With 24k gold, for instance, there is less than 0.1% nickel among other metals and 99.9% gold, so there is a very low risk of allergies.
But with 75% pure gold in 18k gold, there is a chance that the 25% metal alloyed in will have a lot more nickel, hence a higher risk of allergic reactions. 9K, 10K, and 14k gold have higher nickel amounts, hence a higher risk of nickel allergies after wearing the jewelry for some time.
Out of the 3 gold alloys, white gold is a big reason for nickel allergies, given that white gold is alloyed with nickel. Yellow gold is often alloyed with copper and silver, and there is a very minimal risk of allergies with yellow gold jewelry.
It is important to note that not all gold jewelry contains hidden or trace amounts of nickel, meaning that if you are allergic to nickel, you may only suffer an allergic reaction when wearing certain types of gold earrings.
For sterling silver, the problem arises from the copper alloyed with silver. That 7.5% copper may have traces of nickel in it.
Why are my ears suddenly allergic to earrings?
As we pointed out above, your ears will suddenly become allergic to your earrings when the microscopic nickel particles in the earrings come in contact with your skin (and if you are allergic to nickel).
When this happens, you will notice itchiness or rashes in the parts of the skin in contact with the jewelry. This is the manifestation of nickel allergies, and the whole chain of reaction that results in the allergy comes from a salt of nickel, nickel sulfate.
For most of us, nickel sulfate is regarded as a foreign body by your immune system; and so, your immune system acts as it would if your body is exposed to a germ, parasite, or any other foreign body.
So, when your body comes into contact with the allergen, nickel sulfate, the body reacts, and it forms a rash, also called allergic contact dermatitis.
This is often followed by inflammation which worsens the manifestation of the allergy through redness, itchiness, development of rough, scaly areas, cracked, blistered, or weepy skin.
The suddenness of the allergies is a not-so-sudden occurrence. In real life, it seems sudden, mainly because it tends to happen to your good jewelry, which is also often the jewelry that is considered safe and maybe, nickel free.
So, what happens is that as you continue wearing that pair of good earrings that you practically ‘live in’ and have had in ‘forever,’ there is a chance that the microscopic nickel particles that may not have been accounted for, especially in ‘hypoallergenic jewelry’ to get to the surface, ultimately causing an allergic reaction.
Suddenly allergic to earrings – What to do Next?
Now that we are on the same page on all matters, sudden-onset-jewelry-allergies, let’s take a look at the steps you should take once you notice that you may be allergic to your beloved jewelry.
1. Avoid the jewelry
It may hurt to do this when you’ve had a pair of earrings forever, especially if you spent a fortune on them because of the promise that they will never cause allergies.
Because you cannot cry over spilled milk and don’t want to wear the problematic earrings again because they will cause a repeat flareup, the right thing to do is avoid wearing the jewelry for the period.
Whenever you wear these problematic earrings, your earlobes will develop itchy rashes periodically and darken over time. So, find a remedy first before you wear the earrings again.
We can also agree that when these things happen, we are always almost sure that we know the problem earrings, so perhaps we should stop trying to ‘try them one more time.’
2. Treat the allergic reaction.
Apply a mild topic corticosteroid cream to the affected area, for example, 1% hydrocortisone. You may also want to take in oral antihistamines to reduce the discomfort from the allergic reaction.
3. Finer things in life
As mentioned above, even the finer things in life, such as sterling silver and solid gold jewelry, can be problematic. But this does not mean ditching the finer pieces for options that will cause allergies almost immediately.
This means looking for higher karat gold pieces and sterling silver made by jewelry makers who insist on the quality of their pieces and are certain that their jewelry is free of nickel.
4. Alternative Metals
If you wish to avoid the slightest risk of nickel allergies, choose earrings made of safe and 100% nickel-free materials like medical-grade titanium and even medical plastic.
5. Dry skin
Wear jewelry on and with dry skin. Water and other skin/ body care products may increase the risk of allergies or wearing the jewelry.
So, to prevent corrosion, dry your hands and only wear the earrings after the skin oil dries.
6. Moisturize the skin
A good balm or moisturizer creates a barrier between the skin and the metal, lowering the risk of allergies.
It also means that a non-acidic environment is created, and the nickel particles are released away from your skin.
For sentimental pieces, get them electroplated by a reputable jeweler who will add a perfectly thick layer of good metal to the jewelry.
This will prevent the leaching of nickel particles to your skin for a reasonable amount of time.
You can have a sudden allergic reaction to the earrings you have had forever, and it’s all thanks to the microscopic nickel particles present in the excellent jewelry, migrating to the surface, forming nickel sulfate, hence the allergy.
And it has nothing to do with the quality of the earrings. Read more piercing tips here or visit our homepage!
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.