An allergy to silver jewelry usually takes years to develop since it takes time for the surface of the jewelry to tarnish. It is important to note that an allergy to silver jewelry is actually a nickel allergy. The allergy is considered as a type of contact dermatitis that develops once a minimal amount of nickel that is used in the silver jewelry leaches out and gets in contact with the skin. Since pure silver is too soft to be used as jewelry, nickel is always added to sterling silver in order to improve its strength and luster.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to silver jewelry
An individual who has allergy to silver jewelry usually experiences the signs of contact dermatitis. The skin around and under the piece of jewelry worn becomes itchy, inflamed and dry. In cases of severe allergic reactions, the skin appears flaky, red in color and scale-like in appearance. Rashes and blisters can also break out. As for minor cases, the skin will become slightly irritated and discolored.
Depending on the other alloys utilized in the silver jewelry, the discoloration can be blue, black or green. Take note that discolorations are triggered by the oxidation of silver or the constant use of lotions and soaps on the skin with the jewelry on. The chemical change can instigate a reaction among those who are sensitive. The discoloration that develops is not necessarily an allergic reaction. It is considered harmless and can be easily washed off.
Allergy to nickel
Some individuals develop an allergic reaction when exposed to nickel. Always bear in mind that nickel is utilized in minimal amounts in silver jewelry. The nickel will reach the skin once the silver surface on the jewelry becomes tarnished. Along with moisture and other chemicals present on the skin, the nickel will form nickel salts that are responsible for triggering the allergic reactions.
In most cases, an allergy to nickel can be diagnosed using a patch test. You can even conduct a revised test to determine if the individual is allergic by fastening a nickel coin in the interior side of the arm for about 48 hours. If the individual has nickel allergy, the signs of contact dermatitis will manifest.
Treatment for allergy to silver jewelry
When an individual has allergy to silver jewelry, it can be managed by using moisturizers as well as providing the individual with hydrocortisone cream and antihistamines. If you want to learn how to effectively manage an allergic reaction, read here.
For those who decide to continue wearing silver jewelry, future allergic reactions can be prevented by coating the side of the skin that gets in contact with the jewelry using specific products designed to provide a clear shield. Another option is to utilize a clear nail polish.
Other solutions include the application of powder to the skin under the silver piece, using the jewelry less often and keeping the skin and silver piece clean. Additionally, electroplating the silver piece can help prevent the nickel from leaching out.