Nickel allergy

Nickel allergy is a very frequent disorder that affects approximately 30% of the population. Even those who do not suffer from it can develop an allergy after prolonged contact.

nickel allergy

How much is your health and that of your loved ones worth to you? Are you really sure that saving a few euros is the right choice?

Often due to a lack of attention from manufacturers , or simply to save money and increase profits, people who suffer from serious allergies to nickel or even milder forms of sensitivity find themselves having to deal with dermatitis and skin ulcers due to skin contact with necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets and belts .

The very points where these accessories come into contact are the first to show symptoms.

We often don't know we suffer from it until the first signs of allergy.

Let us not underestimate the problem under any circumstances: pretending nothing has happened can only make the situation worse .

But what can we do to recognize and avoid the problem ?

From the beginning we have been committed to making each of our products as safe as possible. We know what precautions a manufacturer can take and therefore we can give you some advice to avoid incurring more or less serious consequences.

This is not intended to be a complete medical guide to this disorder, but an in-depth analysis of the allergy caused by metal accessories used in clothing and fashion.

nickel allergy buckle

A little curiosity about nickel

Around 1600 some copper miners in Saxony (Germany) found a dark red mineral. Believing it was copper they continued to extract it, but it became clear that the significant irritation from which those miners began to suffer was caused by that particular copper.

The folklore of the time convinced the miners that the mineral was protected by elves , so they renamed it “ kupfernickel ”: elves' copper, from kupfer (copper) and nickel (leprechaun).

Only in 1750 did the Swedish chemist Axel Cronstedt manage to isolate this new element.

Since then, given its low cost, malleability and anti-corrosion nature, it has become an element used on a large scale.

Who suffers from it?

Nickel is among the top allergens and the latest data available speak of a rather high number of people who suffer from nickel contact disorders, in more or less serious forms.

In Europe, on average, 20% of the population suffers from it, while in Italy it rises to 32.1%, of which 3 out of 4 are women. Another test in the United States reports that 35.8% of women already suffer from it before the age of 18.

The same study showed that 25.6% of children when tested had a relevant response to contact with nickel.

But why are most of them women ? Probably because they pierce their earlobes earlier and more frequently than men and have to deal with jewelery to a greater extent.

Symptoms and how it manifests itself

Since it is mainly the areas in contact with nickel that suffer, it is called allergic dermatitis .

The first symptoms appear 6-24 hours after contact and are:

  • Red skin;
  • Itching;
  • Swelling;
  • Bubbles and vesicles;
  • Scabs

Water and sweat aggravate the situation.

Other pathologies are also believed to be due to prolonged exposure to nickel.

After the first reactions, the subsequent ones will gradually be faster.

Normally only the part in contact with the metal is attacked, but in some cases you may suffer from more widespread reactions in other parts of the body, known as idiopathies .
Immune cells circulating in the body also react in unexposed areas such as knees, elbows, thighs and upper arms and unfortunately are often confused with eczema or atopic dermatitis.

Where can we find it

Many metal components in our clothing and accessories contain nickel, either as a coating or as an alloy.

Nickel plating is an effective and economical way to give a better appearance to poor quality metals and prevents corrosion.

It is not uncommon to find it in jewelry, costume jewelry, zippers, buttons, buckles and watches, to name just a few examples.

Often, precisely because of the ease with which it causes allergies, it is treated with a transparent varnish which isolates it from the skin for a short period.
Unfortunately, however, after a short while this protection disappears, exposing the nickel to direct contact with the body, causing the first symptoms of the allergy.

It is not only present in cheap products: white gold also commonly contains a percentage of nickel.

Do prevention

It is important to avoid contact with the allergen as soon as the first symptoms of itching and redness appear.

Don't use the item that caused the allergy anymore.

From the moment of the first allergic reaction, subsequent ones will occur more quickly as the body will already be more sensitive. If there was a protective layer on the object it can be assumed that it has now deteriorated.

nickel allergy belt

Nickel-free metals

Some alloys used in jewelry are by law nickel-free . Some of the main ones are:

  • Sterling silver, or commonly sterling silver, is an alloy but does not contain nickel. It can be recognized by the printed number .925 because it contains 92.5% silver. The remaining 7.5% is usually copper.
  • Niobium, prized for its bluish color and used in jewelry and piercing, is nickel-free.
  • Titanium, which like niobium is very resistant to corrosion, is naturally nickel-free. It is also used in the medical field for subcutaneous implants.
  • 14kt yellow gold, made up of 58% pure gold, 25% pure silver and 17% pure copper.

There are cheaper or much more expensive alternatives, but you should always pay attention.

Brass , for example, is normally free of nickel , but unfortunately it is often coated with it for aesthetic reasons. It is therefore not a sufficient guarantee to know that an object is made of a nickel-free material.

An alarm bell is the price : if it is too low , it is likely that nickel was used in the alloy or as a coating.

What does nickel-free mean?

It does not necessarily mean that there is no trace of nickel, but rather that the quantity present is so low that it is harmless to humans and almost imperceptible to measuring instruments.

Our buckles

Our goal, from the beginning, has been to guarantee a product of the best quality at a price accessible to anyone.

Our brass and zamak buckles are always treated with nickel-free galvanics and subsequently painted to guarantee further protection and durability.

Not only that: every other metal component (screws, studs) is strictly nickel-free . If we can't guarantee it, we don't offer it.

Producing with certain standards (even in the choice of leather and tanneries) has a cost that cannot and must not be avoided for the good of our health.

Therefore, be careful when buying accessories that have prices that are too low .

Belts worth €10 or €20 cannot be nickel-free. It is not economically sustainable. At best they have a light transparent varnish that initially protects you from allergic reactions, but which gradually exposes you to nickel.

The regulations

In Europe, strict regulations regulate the presence of nickel.

  • Regulation (EC) no. 1907/2006 (so-called Reach Regulation) – articles. 67-73 and Annex XVII, n. 27
  • Legislative Decree 14 September 2009, n. 133 – art. 16
  • EN 1811:2011 standard
  • EN 12472:2009 standard

Starting from March 31, 2013, Regulation 1907/2006 REACH sets nickel release limits for every object that comes into contact with the skin.

These limits are:

  • 0.2 μg/cm2/week for objects to be inserted into pierced body parts during the healing of the wound caused by piercing (earrings and piercings);
  • 0.5 μg/cm2/week for products intended to come into direct and prolonged contact with the skin;
  • In the case of a “ nickel free ” coating, this coating must ensure that the permitted rate of nickel release is not exceeded for at least 2 years of normal use of the item.

For those who transgress and market unsuitable products there are criminal sanctions. Arrest of up to 3 months or fine from €40,000 to €150,000, unless the act constitutes a more serious crime, for example personal injury, article 582 of the criminal code


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