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Cheaper Earrings More Likely to Contain Nickel
Date:5/17/2008

rrings purchased at places targeting women under age 40 tested positive for nickel, but less than 2 percent of earrings from stores aimed at women over 40 tested positive.

"We also found no correlation between the country where the earrings were manufactured and the frequency of reactions or whether the price of the inexpensive earrings correlated with testing positive for nickel exposure," Maibach said.

For example, none of the 44 earrings priced between $5 and $8 in one accessory store tested positive for nickel, but numerous earrings priced between $15 and $25 in another accessory shop did.

"From our findings, we could not establish a safe-limit price as a guide for consumers who want to avoid excessive nickel exposure when purchasing inexpensive earrings," Maibach said. "But it's safe to say that young customers purchasing earrings at a considerable price range in U.S. chain stores are potentially at risk of nickel exposure and sensitization."

The best way to avoid nickel sensitization is to prevent nickel exposure, but that can be difficult. Maibach offered these tips:

  • Look for jewelry and clothing labeled nickel-free or hypoallergenic.
  • Wear only stainless steel, platinum or gold jewelry if you know you are allergic to nickel.
  • Discontinue wearing jewelry that causes any noticeable skin irritation, such as redness or itching.
  • Use 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment, which can be purchased over-the-counter, to treat nickel-induced dermatitis.
  • See your dermatologist if symptoms worsen or do not improve within three to five days of not wearing jewelry.

More information

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has more about dermatitis.



-- Kevin McKeever

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