Wedding Ring Dermatitis: Is it a nickel allergy or a simple skin irritation?

A MadeOn customer, Leah, wrote to tell me that she found the cause to her eczema in the form of something unexpected:

"Renee,  I wanted to mention an eczema trigger that a lot of people don't think about. It's the one I figured out was mine and since I removed it from my environment, my eczema has improved about 90%."

Before I reveal what Leah learned and how she solved her problem, let's discuss the difference between an allergy and a simple skin irritation... 

According to this article, "there are two common causes of 'wedding-ring dermatitis.' One is an allergic reaction to the metal, generally nickel, which can be present in small quantities, including expensive gold and platinum rings. The other is a surface irritation from moisture and soap trapped under the ring, which can occur with any kind. Both cause similar red, scaly welts, and it can be tricky to tell them apart."

TIP: If the reaction is delayed and persists after you remove the ring, it's likely a nickel allergy. If the reaction occurs quickly, and then resolves if you keep your fingers clean and dry, it's likely an irritation.

By the way, a ring you may have worn for years may suddenly cause your skin to react. This could be due to the nickel salts coming to the surface of the jewelry years, even as many as 20 years, after you've owned and worn it.

DOES NICKEL-FREE MEAN HYPOALLERGENIC?  No. The term hypoallergenic means "below the normal level" of allergenic. Your "nickel-free" jewelry can still have slight amounts of nickel, at least in the U.S. ... the European Union does have a directive that limits the amount of nickel used.

NICKEL-FREE OPTIONS include sterling silver, niobium, titanium, and 14K yellow gold (avoid white gold as it often contains nickel).

The article referenced above also mentions to use a barrier-protective lotion (we recommend Beesilk!) and keep the hands dry. 

For more tips, check out the article:


THE TRIGGER: "...It's nickel! I kept having breakouts of contact dermatitis on my face and hands, which triggered my eczema to flare up. By process of elimination, I figured out I had a nickel allergy. I looked around and figured out that it was my jewelry and my keys that were causing the biggest problem. I tested all the metals I come into contact with on a daily basis and determined which ones had to go."

WHAT SHE DID ABOUT IT: "My husband got an aluminum house key made for me. Half my jewelry, including my wedding ring, had to go. My husband bought me a new wedding ring made of Argentium. When I do get a little spot that flares up, I use your Simply Shea and it goes away within a day!"

Click here to find the Simply Shea that helped Leah.

I'm grateful that Leah wrote in about this because while I've heard of nickel allergies, I hadn't connected that other metals could turn into eczema-like symptoms. I personally had to give up a favorite ring due to the way it would leave my skin raw and irritated. Even expensive rhodium plating would eventually wear off my ring, and the skin irritation would be back.



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