Help! I'm allergic to my ring!
When you love your ring but it doesn't love you back you need to figure out what's causing your skin irritation. Your finger may be green or black when you take your ring off, or worse, it could be red, scaly and itchy. What's going on with your finger? Is it an allergy or is there something wrong with your jewelry? I recommend seeing a doctor if you have a rash but here are some causes and solutions for your finger woes.
Problem: Green or gray marks on your skin under your rings
Explanation: Some metals, like copper or bronze may cause skin that is in contact with the metal to turn greenish. A lot of fashion jewelry is actually copper with gold or rhodium plating. The skin discoloration can happen when the plating starts to wear off. This is caused by a chemical reaction between the metal and natural acids in our skin or cosmetics. Tarnish on silver may also rub off and leave a blackish residue on the skin. Either way, the color will easily wipe or wash off your finger.
Solution: To prevent skin discoloration, wipe jewelry clean with a soft lint-free cloth and avoid exposing items to water or lotion. If the plating is wearing off, see us to have your rings cleaned and re-plated.
Problem: Red, itchy, scaly rash on finger
Explanation: This could be a nickel allergy. How do you know? If you get a rash from zippers and silver buttons on your jeans, cell phones, watches, or coins your're probably allergic to nickel.
Virtually all so-called ‘metal allergies’ are really nickel allergies. Most people who think they are allergic to white gold, low karat gold, or silver are really allergic to nickel in the alloys. Most people can tolerate the small amounts of nickel that may be in 14 or higher karat yellow gold or sterling silver with minor or no symptoms. However, people with strong reactions should to avoid nickel entirely.
Solution: Choose 18K yellow or rose gold, 18K white gold alloyed with palladium, platinum, or palladium. Rhodium plating white gold and silver is an option for people who don’t want to give up white gold or silver, however, rhodium plating is a temporary solution as it wears of eventually.
Another explanation: Sometimes scaly skin under your ring is caused by paraffin in your soaps and lotions. The wax builds up inside the ring and traps dirt and bacteria, causing a rash on your finger.
Solution: Bring your rings in for a professional cleaning and re-plating, see your doctor and let your rash heal. When you wear your jewelry again make sure you make sure you avoid soap and lotions containing paraffin, dry your hands well after washing, especially under your rings, and clean your jewelry frequently. We sell small spray bottles of jewelry cleaner to keep in your bag for daily cleaning on the go.
Hypoallergenic VS Nickel-Free Jewelry: What's the difference?
Hypoallergenic means something is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction or may cause a ‘slight’ reaction. In the jewelry industry, hypoallergenic is usually associated with surgical stainless steel. However, both stainless and surgical stainless steel have small or trace amounts of nickel and may cause reactions on rare occasions. In addition, very low nickel or items with nickel free plating may also be designated ‘hypoallergenic’.
Nickel-free items are made of metals that have no nickel such as platinum, titanium, tungsten, cobalt, and palladium. Non-metal ceramic items can also be a solution for people who can’t tolerate metal at all.
Metal allergies are fairly common and usually not serious. Your jeweler can clean and re-plate your rings and offer nickel-free jewelry, but diagnosis and treatment should by addressed by medical professionals.