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Nickel allergy: intolerant people in Italy are 32%.


Nickel is a heavy metal found in many everyday objects. Indeed, it can be found in jewelry (especially earrings and watches) in zippers, jeans buttons, but also in bracelets, keys, coins, and many other items. Usually nickel is harmless to most of the population, but there are individuals, however, who have developed an intolerance to this metal, which causes them skin problems. In fact, nickel allergy is the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis, which is a condition that generates eczema-like skin lesions: boils, itching, blisters and redness.


According to the most recent findings, the number of individuals who have developed a form of allergy to this metal has increased significantly. In fact, in Europe about 20% of the population is allergic to nickel, in Italy the number even grows to 32.1% with a majority in favor of women ( the ratio to men is 3 to 1 ). Although it is an intolerance that occurs most frequently in the elderly, children and infants are also not excluded from this phenomenon, accounting for about 16 percent of the intolerant population.


Nickel allergy manifests, as specified, with eczema local affecting essentially the portion of the skin that comes into direct contact with metal, e.g., the earlobes in the case of earrings, the wrist for watches, the neck for necklaces, and the area below the navel, which often comes into contact with jeans buttons. The face and scalp may also show symptoms. In this case, possible “culprits” include cell phones, glasses, piercings and even hair clips.

However, nickel is also present in nature, specifically in soil and water, thus being absorbed by living things that in turn end up, more often than not, on our tables. Nickel is therefore present in many of the foods that become part of our diet, especially for fruit and vegetables, where nickel levels are about 4 times higher than in animal products (meat, milk, eggs…).

The test

As is the case with any form of allergy or intolerance, it is crucial to find out the causes as soon as possible by resorting to the help of tests and examinations. In the case of nickel, this is a completely noninvasive test. It mainly concerns the application of some patches with allergens on the back skin. Because contact allergies do not present immediate symptoms, the patches are kept on for about 2 days, and reading by the specialist may occur as late as 3-4 days after application.


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