ASK THE ALLERGISTA: Do you have any tips for living with an extreme nickel allergy?

ask_the_allergista

Q:

AHhhhhhhh! I apparently have an extreme allergy to nickel. Not only touching it but eating foods with high nickel content. I am looking for nickel free everyday products such as disposable razors, etc. If you have any helpful ways for me to deal with this allergy they would be much appreciated.

A:

Hi!

Ugh... nickel allergy. Nickel is eeeverywhere! Nickel is my most extreme allergy. If I touch it, my skin starts to react in less than 10 minutes and will bubble. It's super itchy as well. When it comes to nickel, here are some tips:

  1. Copy all your house keys and any key you possibly can and choose the new kind of keys that are coated with a design all over the entire key. Also, put plastic key covers over the tops of all your keys
  2. To avoid metal doorknobs and handles, keep a bandana (I cut mine in half) in your pocket or purse. My bandana is a different color on each side, so only one side will ever touch my skin. I also use it to start my car.
  3. Use your sleeve or the bottom of your shirt if you forget your bandana. This is good for doors. Probably not for starting the car.
  4. Keep a cotton glove in your car for pumping gas. Sometimes the gas pump handles have metal on them.
  5. Nickel can be found in hardware on everything from doors to lamps to bathrooms and everywhere else.
  6. Put masking tape over the metal part below the eraser on pencils – or paint it with nail polish. Better yet, use mechanical pencils.
  7. Keep a set of plastic silverware in your purse for eating out or eating at other people’s homes. A lot of stainless steel has nickel in it due to the use of alloys. I looooove wooden chopsticks for this reason.
  8. Buy vinyl-coated paperclips
  9. Only wear sterling silver or platinum jewelry. A lot of gold has nickel because gold is soft and the nickel makes it harder
  10. Use a nickel testing kit to test the items in your home and at work
  11. For clothing: Use iron-on patches for the button on your pants (the metal part that hits your skin on the inside of the pants). I bought some at my grocery store. Also check for any other metal parts on the inside of the pants or skirt. You can also paint the part with clear nail polish. I like the nail polish better because the wax on the iron-on patched patches dried up and they fell off. They’re also not made of cotton, so I can’t use them anyways. Paint any metal zipper pulls with clear nail polish too!
  12. Avoid change (coins) when making purchases. This one can be tricky. A lot of the time, I’ll have the cashier plop the change in my change purse for me.
  13. Tell your dentist! Some of the titanium used in dental work has nickel in it. My doctor told me to have my dentist call if they’re ever going to do work that involves metal (like braces, etc) because he said the dentists don’t always know there is nickel in the metal.
  14. Avoid touching your face or other parts of your body – the allergen DOES transfer!
  15. Wash your hands often.
  16. Avoid these foods as they're high in nickel.
  17. I've found some great electric razors, but haven't found a disposable one free of nickel quite yet. I started this petition in an effort to get a better product on the market.
  18. Follow my "Nickel-Free / Nickel Allergy" board on Pinterest. There are tweezers, eyelash curlers and more.

Being diligent about paying attention to what you're touching is major. When you're out in public, you're very likely to come across nickel surfaces. If your skin does end up breaking out, here are my tips for that scenario.

I hope these tips help!

Good luck in your journey!

Sincerely,

The Allergista