It’s the classic story:
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. Boy marries girl. Girl develops allergies to wedding ring…
As you can see, being allergic to your wedding ring or engagement jewelry can put a damper on the whole Hollywood romance thing. However, the problem is relatively easy to solve with a little bit of knowledge and some precautions.
Here’s the deal:
What we want to avoid is a condition called “wedding-ring dermatitis,” a skin infection caused by a metal in your beautiful jewelry. It can strike years after you first say “I do” and put on the engagement ring.
What’s the cause of “wedding-ring dermatitis?”
The most common cause is an allergy to a metal in your ring. For most people, the culprit is nickel, which is included in various amounts in different jewelry, especially white gold engagement rings. That’s a big reason people will choose alternatives to gold, including platinum and palladium. (read more about gold vs platinum jewelry here)
Nickel allergies are so common, in fact, that nickel was named Allergen of the Year in 2008. Apparently, nickel allergies affect about 24-36% of women and about 7-15% of men. So you’re not alone if you’ve got nickel allergies.
But here’s the crazy part:
You can develop nickel allergies at any time in your life. You could be married happily for 5 years when suddenly you develop allergies to your ring.
The other common cause of wedding-ring dermatitis is simply when moisture or soap get trapped under your ring. It can happen to anyone – allergies or not – and it can happen with any type of ring.
Both causes of irritation result in the same symptoms: a red, scaly rash under your ring that is itchy and annoying.
How Do You Tell The Difference?
Here’s a chart to explain the differences in causes:
|There’s nickel in your ring||There’s no nickel in your ring|
|Reaction comes on slowly||Reaction comes on quickly|
|Reaction lasts longer||Irritation clears up if you take the ring off and keep your finger clean and dry|
Possible Solutions To Your Wedding Ring Allergies
First off, the best way to solve this problem is with prevention. Are you allergic to nickel? If you don’t know, you can tape a nickel coin to your arm for a day. If this results in a skin irritation, then you can assume you’re allergic.
If you have nickel allergies, look into alternative engagement and wedding rings. Rose gold is a good one. So is yellow gold. Indeed, platinum is wonderful as well. Whatever you do, ask your jeweler to make certain there is no nickel in your ring.
What if you developed nickel allergies late in the game?
Three possible solutions:
- Coat your ring in nail polish.
- Buy nickel guard.
- Have your jeweler plate the ring with rhodium.
None of these solutions are permanent, though. So you should have a long term plan as well.
If the problem isn’t allergies, but skin irritation, try these solutions:
- Use hand sanitizer instead of soap and water.
- Keep your hands dry.
- Use lotion on the affected spot.
Prevention is best. If you’re allergic to nickel, look for alternatives that don’t contain nickel. The only way to be sure is to talk to your jeweler (call us!).
However, if allergies develop later, or if the irritation is due to trapped soap and moisture, there are steps you can take to resolve the issue (listed above).
If you have any question, don’t hesitate to reach out!