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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

Could I be allergic to body jewelry?

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I constantly have infections when I put my jewelry in my ears, belly button, etc. I've tried stainless, 24 karats gold, and even plastic. Any recommendations so my body doesn't keep rejecting a piercing?

One possibility is contact dermatitis to metals or other materials. Contact dermatitis is a delayed allergy and antihistamines would not be helpful. Symptom may include eczema, skin inflammation, and/or itching.

Poison ivy is also a type of contact dermatitis. An allergist can test for contact dermatitis with a test called patch testing. This involves placing patches (kind of like stickers) on your back. These have several different allergens. These are typically worn for two days, removed and then the skin is reviewed again the following day to look for eczema under the patch to determine which allergens are triggers. Nickel and cobalt are common metal triggers. Titanium is often at lower risk for a reaction. Getting a consultation with a board-certified allergist would be a good first step.

Allergy, Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Answered by

Douglas T. Johnston, DO, FAAAAI, FACAAI, is an allergist/clinical immunologist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Assistant Professor at Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). He has lectured at national and international medical conferences and has publications in several medical journals, including “Clinical Immunology,” “World Allergy Organization Journal,” “Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” and the “New England Journal of Medicine.”

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