What causes itchy ears? Look no further than your artisan earrings.

On Aug 30, 2013

Do you or someone you know have itchy ears? Look no further than the earrings that you or they wear.

Nickel Earrings

A research study found that artisan earrings have significantly higher levels of nickel than store-bought earrings. The study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 69% of hand-crafted earrings purchased from local artists contained nickel while only 24% of earrings purchased from large chain stores contained this metal.  

How does nickel cause itchy ears?

Nickel is one of the most common contact allergens. This means that upon repeated exposure to this metal, some people may develop an allergic reaction called allergic contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis can cause your ears to turn red, become itchy, and develop thickened skin and inflammation from scratching and the allergic process.

What should you do to treat your itchy ears?

To determine if your earrings are to blame for your itchy ears problem, the best method is to avoid wearing your artisan earrings for 1-2 weeks and assess whether the itching improves. If it does, you may have diagnosed yourself with a nickel allergy. 

Do you have to throw away those nickel earrings if you find out that you are allergic to them?

Not necessarily! Here is a useful little trick that you can try if you want to salvage your earrings and continue wearing them. Protect your skin from the nickel by painting the metal part with 3-4 coats of clear nail polish. This should put a protective barrier between the metal and your skin and prevent you from developing an allergic reaction to the earrings. If this doesn't work, you can attempt to get a nickel protectant. Or you can admit defeat and re-gift those earrings to your non-allergic friend (hopefully)!

Central Skin Factoid:  Our suggestions and advice in this article apply not only to nickel earrings but to all type of metal jewelry which includes chains, bracelets, anklets, and even the metal button of your jeans.

Nickel released from earrings purchased in the United States. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Image source: Microsoft Office images


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