What is a metal allergy? What are its symptoms ? Scroll down for answers to these questions…
A metal allergy is nothing but a hypersensitivity reaction shown by the body against certain metals. Many metals can cause this condition, however, an allergy to metals like nickel,chromium and cobalt is quite common among people around the world. It is estimated that about 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel and about 1 – 3% of the general population is allergic to chromium and cobalt. It is observed that metal allergy is generally seen in women who use jewelry made from high nickel alloys. Body piercings may also make the person vulnerable to these allergies. In this article, we shall discuss in detail the symptoms of metal allergies and ways to treat them. But before that, let us have a quick look at the different causes of these allergies.
Wearing jewelry containing traces of nickel is the main cause of a metal allergy. Another common cause of allergy to metals is body piercing. The constant contact of the metal with the body causes it to develop a sensitivity to certain metals. Other factors that cause or trigger the condition include belts, cigarette lighters, dental plates, joint replacements, needles, pins, shoes, zippers, eyelash curlers, cigarettes and antiperspirants that contain traces of these metals. Natural sources that may cause metal allergies include soil and sea water. Let us read about its signs and symptoms.
Symptoms generally occur within 24 hours of exposure to the metal. An allergic reaction is usually seen in the area of the skin that has come in contact with the metal. However, it can be carried to other parts of the body too. One of the most common symptoms of metal allergies is itching, that ranges from mild to severe. This can be quite bothersome, as the skin becomes extremely itchy. Itching is often accompanied by redness and swelling of the skin. Another common symptom of allergy to metals is skin rash. It can be mild to severe, and sometimes may result in blisters. The skin that is sensitive to metals may become scaly or crusty and can even crack, resulting in dry, broken skin. Prolonged contact of skin with the metal can cause the skin in that area to darken.
Redness and itching of the skin, as a result of allergy to metal, can be taken care of with over the counter medications. Applying ice on the affected area has a soothing effect on the skin and helps in relieving pain and swelling. Sometimes, oral antihistamines may be prescribed to treat itching and skin rash. However, if the condition worsens and results in broken skin and oozing blisters on skin, you may have to seek immediate medical assistance to avoid further complications. An allergy patch test is done as the first step of the treatment, to determine the specific cause of the allergy. The treatment is generally topical, in the form of creams and ointments. As there is no specific allergy medication that can cure metal allergies, precautions should be taken to avoid or minimize the discomfort.
This was all about metal allergies. The best way to prevent it is to avoid contact with the metal, once you become aware of the fact that you are allergic to it.