5 Tips for Choosing Jewelry That Won't Irritate Sensitive Skin

5 Tips for Choosing Jewelry That Won't Irritate Sensitive Skin 

There are many people out there who have experienced some type of allergic reaction to jewelry made from specific types of metals. Most commonly, this is a reaction to nickel. It is estimated that about 17 percent of the female population and 3 percent of the male population have a nickel allergy. Because it is a fairly common condition, many companies have started producing hypoallergenic jewelry to appeal to this market and make affordable pieces available to those who can’t wear jewelry containing nickel. If you’re ever experienced contact dermatitis from wearing jewelry, there are several ways to avoid this irritating reaction.

1. Purchase 14K Gold or Higher

If your skin is very sensitive to nickel, you may be limited to only wearing gold or silver jewelry, but you still may notice a reaction even with gold jewelry if you’re not buying the right kind. The lowest purity of gold jewelry that you can purchase is 10K. This means that your jewelry is 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts alloyed metals. Because these gold pieces are still comprised mainly of other metals, often including nickel, rather than gold, it is possible for your contact dermatitis to break out.

Buying gold chains and bracelets that are at least 14K guarantees that you are wearing a piece made mainly from gold, greatly reducing the chance of a reaction. The higher purity your jewelry is, the more immune to a reaction you’ll be. Unfortunately, pure gold cannot be turned into jewelry because it is too malleable to hold its shape and prevent scratches, so it must be mixed with harder metals. 

2. Look For Hypoallergenic Jewelry

While purchasing gold and silver jewelry with high purity is a good way to still wear jewelry that you love without hurting your skin, it can be expensive to limit yourself to real gold and silver products. This is the reason many people purchase cheaper jewelry made from nickel in the first place. It’s an affordable way to wear accessories every day without breaking the bank.

If you’re looking to add some cheaper pieces to your collection, keep an eye out for hypoallergenic jewelry. You can easily find hypoallergenic jewelry that has been made without nickel, to eliminate your allergic reaction. Although most people who have jewelry allergies are reacting to the nickel, there are many types of metal allergies. If you have a sensitivity to a different metal like brass or copper, be on the lookout for hypoallergenic jewelry without these materials.

3. Skip the Costume Jewelry
Although costume jewelry can be fun to wear, it’s purposely made from cheap metals like nickel to make it affordable. These types of jewelry pieces are not meant to be worn for special occasions, when you would wear real gold chains or diamond necklaces.

As previously mentioned, if you want to have a few less expensive pieces of jewelry that you feel comfortable wearing during the day, skip the costume jewelry. Look for hypoallergenic materials. If your allergy is to nickel, you can also purchase jewelry made from surgical steel, as this shouldn’t irritate your skin. You can easily identify costume jewelry made from nickel because it usually leaves a greenish color on your skin even before a reaction takes place.

4. Keep Your Jewelry Clean
Although the metal content of your jewelry is usually what is causing a skin irritation, dirt and grime that builds up on jewelry can make your reaction worse. You should be properly caring for your pieces to ensure that you’re paying attention to what your skin needs. Even pieces that do not contain nickel, or other metals you may be allergic to, can cause skin irritation if they have buildup.

Wearing jewelry often, in combination with lotions and perfumes, creates a layer of materials on your jewelry that can end up causing your skin to break out. Invest in a good jewelry cleaning solution and allow your favorite pieces to soak at least once every week or two.

5. Understand Your Allergy
While nickel maybe one of the more common metal allergies in jewelry, you can be allergic to a number of metals, including copper, brass, and even platinum, a rare and expensive metal. It’s important to know exactly what you’re allergic to so that you can avoid the problematic metals and look for proper replacements, which is why you should visit your doctor right after experiencing your first reaction. Although it is often assumed that a reaction to jewelry is a nickel allergy, your doctor can perform a patch test and more accurately identify the allergen.

After you have a solid understanding of what is causing your contact dermatitis, you can look for jewelry without these materials and every take some of your favorite pieces to a jeweler to have them plated with another metal that you do not have a sensitivity to. The jeweler will charge you for the process, but it might be worth the price if you can keep your favorite necklaces and rings without worrying about the irritating reaction. 

Shop for High-Quality Products That Won’t Bother Your Skin

The most important step you can take to reduce your contact dermatitis from flaring up when you wear jewelry is to get rid of any jewelry that irritates your skin and replace your pieces with hypoallergenic and real gold or silver items. If you a piece that you really love but it causes your allergies to flare up, ask a professional to plate the piece with another metal like platinum that won’t bother you.

Keep your real gold chains and diamond rings or bracelets clean to avoid additional skin irritants and have a plan for how to treat your allergy should it flare up unexpectedly. Most rashes are mild and can be treated with calamine lotion, over-the-counter antihistamines, or cortisone creams. Wet compresses may help reduce redness and itchiness as well.

Always visit your doctor if the reaction is more severe than normal, and inquire about prescription options if over-the-counter treatments don’t seem to be solving the problem.

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