Wash Your Nickel Allergies Down the Drain

Allergies to the nickel metal contained in coins and costume jewelry are a common problem that affects about 10 percent of Americans.

The Solution

There's an easy way to get around nickel allergies thanks to the efforts of researchers from Harvard University who published their findings in the April 2011 issue of the journal, Nature Nanotechnology.

The scientists discovered that using a special topical cream on your skin can circumvent the reaction. To test this theory, they combined nanoparticles of calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate into a glycerin base that captures the nickel ions and allows them to be washed down the drain.

The initial research on this concept was performed on the feet of laboratory mice. Those rodents using the cream experienced less inflammation from nickel than their counterparts. Now the scientists are working to translate this into a cream designed for people.

Take Control of Your Nickel Allergy

Until such a cream is approved for use, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of nickel allergies. You can try some of the popular anti-itch creams on the market to get immediate relief. Also, brush nail polish on your nickel-containing jewelry to keep it from touching your skin. While such approaches can be effective short-term strategies, they probably won't provide the long-term solution you need.

Avoiding Nickel

Even if you don't have nickel allergies now, it's also important to know that repeated exposure to nickel can trigger a problem. Therefore, it's worthwhile to find out the metal content of your jewelry and avoid those made of nickel. If you do have a stash of nickel jewelry, store the pieces away for some time until the new nickel allergy cream is available. Then you'll likely be able to enjoy them and remain symptom-free.




"New Cream Blocks Nickel Allergy." Chemistry World. RSC: Advancing the Chemical Sciences, 04 April 2011. Web. 9 May 2011.

P.V. Kumar et al. "Nanoparticles Reduce Nickel Allergy by Capturing Metal Ions." Nature Technology, 3 April 2011. Web. 8 May 2011.