Before you get that piercing, beware. You could have a nickel allergy

Nickel allergy

By: Natasha Archary


Body art and piercings have always been a form of self-expression and with many local and international celebrities popularizing the trend, it doesn’t look like it’s going to die down at this rate.


Before you consider a new piercing or tattoo, it’s best to be prepared for the probability that something could go wrong. There isn’t a lot of information out there on nickel allergies but I speak from experience on piercings going wrong. It can be avoided, so rest assured there’s no reason to decide against a new piercing.


The 411 on nickel allergies

Nickel is a metal that can be found in costume jewelry. It can also be found in coins, zippers, keys, eye-wear frames and more. It is a cheaper and more commonly used metal in trade and industry and yup, you guessed it, jewelry.


An allergic reaction to nickel may go unnoticed and most dermatologists cannot explain what causes the allergy. It’s just a metal that is said to be highly reactive to sensitive skin, a problem like many I didn’t realise I had.

Nickel allergy piercings
The symptoms

I’ve only ever had the standard one earring on each ear my whole life. But lately, my obsession with body art and piercings have kicked into high gear and I decided to get a few additional piercings on my ears.


Nothing about the actual piercing was excessively painful. It stung as the gun pushed the small stud into my earlobes but nothing extreme. Numbness takes over a few seconds after as the adrenaline kicks in. You’re sent home with a self-care kit and I was told it would take two weeks to completely heal.


An hour later, my ears swelled up to Alice in Wonderland epic proportions. I’m talking satellite dishes, it looked awful. I called the parlour I had them done at, and was advised to slap on some ice-packs, the swelling would subside in a few hours.


I know what you’re thinking, “you didn’t go to a reputable body art parlour”.  If you’ve read my previous post on tattoos, I stress how meticulous you have to be with your body artists. It’s not something I take lightly. A permanent new inclusion to one’s body should not be a spur-of-the-moment decision.


Nothing brought the swelling down. My ears were a hot, ringing, sensitive mess for an entire month. I could not touch them because it hurt something serious. At this point I considered removing the studs. But, decided to research allergic reactions to piercings.


Don’t click on the images. It’s not pretty and will turn your stomach. That’s it, these studs were coming off, nothing else made sense. After painfully removing each one and attempting to cleanse the area, relief.


The throbbing stopped. The angry red blisters subsided. The swelling came down almost instantly.

Nickel allergy
The solution

Whether you have a nickel allergy or are not sure if you do, hypoallergenic jewelry is the safer bet. It doesn’t matter which area of the body you’re considering getting pierced. There are a number of jewelry outlets and online manufacturers that you can source hypoallergenic jewelry from.


A nickel allergy is something that you can develop over time, as your skin matures and acclimatizes to your surroundings, diet, skin-care products and routines. So, like me, it may not be an allergy you are aware you have.


Since changing to hypoallergenic earrings, my piercings are all healed and I can swap pieces of jewelry to define my style.


Self-care for new piercings

A piercing without any complications, is likely to heal in two weeks. You should avoid getting the new piercing wet or risk contact with any moisturizing or bathing products. This could cause an infection that is unrelated to a nickel allergy.


There’s no real need to use a topical ointment or Vaseline on the area afterwards. Consider the piercing as an open wound and it’s best to allow it time to heal naturally. You should try to rotate the piercing twice a day, including pushing and slowly pulling on the stud, promoting movement.


Ice-packs do help to relieve the initial sting from the stud being pierced into the skin or for the piercings where a needle is used to insert the new piece of jewelry. Avoid touching the area with unwashed hands. Once healed a gentle cleanse with an anti-septic solution may be applied once a week.


Hypoallergenic jewelry does not have to be gold, platinum or sterling silver. These do tend to be the higher priced precious metals with jewelry but does not guarantee that they are free from nickel. In fact, white gold is said to contain a high percentage of nickel. A fact most jewelers will fail to disclose to you when you’re making a purchase.


There’s no sure-fire way to know if you have a metal allergy, unless you have a reaction to a piece of jewelry. Hypoallergenic jewelry saved me from the heartache of removing all my piercings so I do recommend them. Competitively priced and with hundreds of gorgeous designs, it offers a safe alternative for anyone with a nickel allergy.


Have you ever experienced an allergy to jewelry? Share with us by tweeting @KayaFM95dot9 using the hashtag #KayaOnline

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