Nickel allergy is a very common form of dermatitis called allergic contact dermatitis or ACD. A rash develops after contact with nickel and may have the following characteristic(s): red, itchy, swelling, welts or hives, and cracks or fissures.
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Piercing is a major cause of nickel allergy. When the skin is injured, prolonged contact with the nickel containing stud is a well known cause of sensitization. Sensitization can take a week, a month, or even years to occur.
Nickel salts from the jewelry penetrate the skin and cause the sensitization, then ultimately an allergic reaction. Once an individual is sensitized to nickel, symptoms will appear after contact with nickel.
Nickel allergy is considered a delayed Type IV allergy, meaning an allergic reaction may occur up to 48 hours after contact with nickel.
There is no cure for nickel allergy. Avoidance of nickel is essential for remaining symptom free.