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Tell-Tale Signs You Have an Earring Allergy

Approximately 17 percent of women and 3 percent of men have an allergy to nickel, a metal that’s often used in earrings.

If you’ve recently had your ears pierced and are dealing with a lot of discomforts, a nickel allergy could be to blame.

Even if your earrings aren’t made of nickel, you could still experience allergy symptoms after having your ears pierced. You might also be allergic to other popular metals like chromium, cobalt, or stainless steel (which often contains trace amounts of a nickel). 

Read to learn about some signs you’re dealing with a metal earring allergy, as well as some tips on how to correct the problem.

Earring Allergy Symptoms

If you have a metal allergy, you’ll likely know it soon after having your ears (or any other part of your body) pierced or inserting a pair of earrings made with questionable metal.

The following are some of the most well-known signs that you’re dealing with this allergy:

  • A rash or red bumps
  • Itching, often severe 
  • Changes in the skin color
  • The presence of dry patches on the skin
  • Blisters

Usually, these symptoms occur within hours or a few days after receiving your piercing or starting to wear a certain pair of earrings. They can last anywhere from two to four weeks.

In most cases, the symptoms stay localized in the area where you received the piercing. Sometimes, though, they can spread to other parts of the body.

When to See Your Doctor

If these symptoms pop up shortly after having your ears pierced or getting hearing aids, you may be able to treat the problem with at-home or over-the-counter remedies.

If you don’t notice any improvements to your symptoms after using these remedies, though, you ought to call your doctor. They will be able to prescribe something stronger and more effective.

You also should call your doctor right away if you notice signs of an infection.

Common signs of an infection include the following: 

  • Increasing redness in the affected area
  • A feeling of warmth
  • Development of a fever
  • Presence of pus in the affected area
  • Severe pain

Never try to clear up an infection on your own. Always get help from a medical professional to prevent the infection from spreading.

Earring Allergy Risk Factors

Some people are more likely than others to deal with allergies to nickel and other metals.

For example, women are more prone to this allergy than men, as are those who have a family history of nickel and metal allergies.

People who spend a lot of time working with nickel and other metals are also more likely to develop allergies because they’re exposed to them so often.

Earring Allergy Treatment Options

There are a lot of at-home treatments you can use to clear up earring allergy symptoms. The following are some of the most effective options:

  • Soothing lotions like calamine lotion to eliminate itching
  • Regular moisturization with an emollient cream or lotion like petroleum jelly
  • Wet compresses to dry out blisters and minimize itching

Your doctor may also prescribe medications if these at-home remedies don’t work. The following are some prescription treatments that can get rid of rashes and reduce irritation:

  • Corticosteroid creams like clobetasol and betamethasone dipropionate
  • Nonsteroidal creams like pimecrolimus and tacrolimus
  • Oral corticosteroids like prednisone
  • Oral antihistamines like fexofenadine and cetirizine

Some physicians also recommend phototherapy. If your condition does not get better with topical or oral medications, this can be a good treatment option, although it does take quite a while to produce results. It involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of artificial UV light.

Does This Mean No Earrings?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of an earring allergy, you might be wondering if this means you have to give up wearing earrings altogether.

Some people do choose to stick to ear cuffs and other, less invasive, jewelry options after they experience symptoms of earring allergy.

The good news is that you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to! You can still wear your favorite types of earrings. You just have to be more cautious about the specific metals they’re made from.

Best Earrings for Sensitive Ears

The following are some of the best types of earrings for people who have metal allergies or sensitivities.

  • 14kt Gold: Make sure you’re really buying 14kt gold earrings and not earrings that are simply gold plated — they might be made with another metal that triggers allergy symptoms.
  • Platinum: Platinum is highly resistant to corrosion and is unlikely to trigger allergy symptoms.
  • Titanium: This is another corrosion-resistant, non-allergenic metal that most people do just fine wearing
  • Plastic and acrylic: Both of these are inexpensive options that do not trigger allergic reactions in most people
  • Surgical steel: This is much safer than stainless steel and rarely triggers allergic reactions
  • Niobium: This is a chemical element that is hypoallergenic and great for those with earring allergies

There are plenty of earring options out there that are perfect for folks with sensitive skin and metal allergies, and they come in a variety of price ranges.

Plastic and acrylic are highly affordable and good for folks on a budget, while platinum and 14kt gold are on the pricier end.

Be sure to read the package your earrings come in carefully before you put them in your ears. That way, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’re not exposing yourself to any potential allergens. 

Need Help with Other Skin Issues?

Earring allergy symptoms are a common skin issue that lots of people experience.

If you keep these tips in mind, though, you’ll likely be able to clear up the issue very quickly while still being able to wear earrings that you love.

Are you dealing with any other jewelry allergy symptoms? What about skin issues in general? 

If you need help clearing up your skin, check out the Skincare Archives of our site today. You’ll find all kinds of tips that will help you streamline your beauty routine so you can look and feel your best at all times.