Contact Dermatitis Reaction to metals (Nickel, Gold), chemicals

Contact dermatitis is caused by inflammation of the skin or mucosa as a result of contact with a foreign substance over a period of time and lasts after discontinuation of that contact. It manifests as itchy rash, blisters, burning sensation, imprinting of the object (buckle, strap, ring) or trace of a contact with a plant. It is classified into irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and photocontact dermatitis.

Irritants are responsible for about 80% of contact dermatitis, they have direct toxic effect and include chemicals, stinging plants, that can trigger the inflammation,

Allergic contact dermatitis is cause by an immune mechanism where T cells which recognise these contact allergens presented on skin cells cause cytotoxic effects of immune cells on these skin cells. Contact allergens can be organic chemicals or metal ions such as nickel or gold.

Sensitisation is an important step that primes immune system to cause inflammation after the contact with particular allergen.

Patch testing is used to diagnose this condition.

If you require more information and want to see our consultants please book an appointment.


Prof Michael Rudenko: ‘The Role of Allergy in Skin Conditions‘


Martin SF. T lymphocyte-mediated immune responses to chemical haptens and metal ions: implications for allergic and autoimmune disease. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2004; 134:186-98.

Vocanson M, Hennino A, Rozieres A, Poyet G, Nicolas JF. Effector and regulatory mechanisms in allergic contact dermatitis. Allergy 2009; 64:1699-1714.

Martin SF, Merfort I, Thierse HJ. Interactions of chemicals and metal ions with proteins and role for immune responses. Mini Rev Med Chem 2006; 6:247-55.

Martin SF, Jakob T. From innate to adaptive immune responses in contact hypersensitivity. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2008; 8:289-93.

Freudenberg MA, Esser PR, Jakob T, Galanos C, Martin SF. Innate and adaptive immune responses in contact dermatitis: analogy with infections. G Ital Dermatol Venereol 2009; 144:173-85.

There are options to substitute the metal that is causing the reaction with another metal (titanium or niobium), which are less likely to case a problem

The Jewellery is handmade by Marjon in Australia but sold online to people all over the world. Hypoallergenic titanium earrings and niobium earrings are her specialty. The titanium and niobium used are pure metals, not alloys. Marjon Scheffer Jewellery is especially made for over-sensitive skin, so everybody can wear it!

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