Contact Dermatitis

Nickel Allergy: A Reaction to Metal

Nickel allergyNickel is a prevalent material in the things that surround us. In fact, you can find it in almost everything including the kitchen sink, which can be a big deal if you suffer from a nickel allergy. According to LiveScience, “Nickel is a hard, silvery-white metal whose strength, ductility and resistance to heat and corrosion make it extremely useful for the development of a wide variety of materials.” Mayo Clinic’s extensive list of materials that contain nickel shows just how widespread its use is. Some of the things on this list may surprise you:

  • Jewelry for body piercings
  • Other jewelry, including rings, bracelets, necklaces and jewelry clasps
  • Watchbands
  • Clothing fasteners, such as zippers, snaps and bra hooks
  • Belt buckles
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Coins
  • Metal tools
  • Cellphones
  • Keys
  • Military “dog-tag” IDs
  • Chalk
  • Medical devices
  • Laptops or computer tablets
  • E-cigarettes

Some foods also contain small amounts of nickel that can cause a reaction. These include soy and certain fruit, vegetable, legumes and grains. For a more comprehensive list of foods that contain nickel, visit the Healthline website.

Fortunately, it’s rare to find something that is made purely of nickel, and items are usually a combination of nickel and other materials. LiveScience further explains, “Nickel is commonly used as a protective outer coating for softer metals.” This is called nickel-plating. Unfortunately, even a little bit of nickel can cause an allergic reaction, and some people are more at risk for developing the allergy than others.

A nickel allergy usually presents as contact dermatitis, the signs of which Mayo Clinic lists as:

  • Rash or bumps on the skin
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Redness or changes in skin color
  • Dry patches of skin that may resemble a burn
  • Blisters and draining fluid in severe cases
  • Infection (increased redness, warmth, pus, pain)

If you are having recurring reactions to nickel or are not sure where your symptoms are coming from, you should see a doctor. After discussing the circumstances surrounding your reaction and performing patch testing, your doctor will likely prescribe a corticosteroid, nonsteroidal cream or a antihistamine. In severe cases, phototherapy, an exposure treatment, may be used.

Stop letting your nickel allergy meddle with your life. Contact CT Sinus Center today and let our expert physicians pinpoint the exact cause of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that is right for your individual lifestyle.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule your appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices today. You’ll leave feeling as good as gold.

For more information on all allergy and sinus conditions, visit the CT Sinus website and blog.

A Beauty Products Allergy: Not Just Skin-Deep

Beauty productsHave you ever tried some new beauty products for the first time and broken out into hives? Or maybe after a year or so, the body wash you’ve used every day began to make your skin itch. A well-cited survey conducted by the FDA states that “up to 25% of people said they had a skin reaction to at least one beauty product.” The reaction is called contact dermatitis, and the strange thing is that even if you have used a product for a long time, you can develop an allergy to it.

Contact dermatitis can occur in two ways:

  1. Irritant contact dermatitis is a skin reaction in which the substance has caused damage to your skin. This type of response manifests as burning, itching, redness and blisters.
  2. Allergic contact dermatitis affects your immune system and causes itching, redness, hives and even swelling. WebMD explains, “Your skin can get red and raw. You can get an allergic reaction on any part of your body, although it happens most often on the face, lips, eyes, ears, and neck.”

There are a few ingredients in beauty products that can make your skin look and feel not so beautiful. The best best is to always check the label before buying a product, especially if you know you are allergic to a particular chemical, and with some, such as hair dye or face cream, it’s best to do a spot check before you use it regularly. Even things that are labeled “non-irritating,” “hypoallergenic,” “for sensitive skin,” or “unscented” might contain something can trigger a reaction in some people. Instead, look for “fragrance-free” on the label of your beauty products.

WebMD has compiled a general list of the irritants found in many cosmetics. They include:

  • Fragrances in soaps, colognes, deodorants, body creams, cosmetics, detergents and tissues
  • Preservatives and antibacterials, added to many liquids to keep them from spoiling
  • Substances added to thicken, color or lubricate a product
  • Chemicals in permanent hair dyes and other hair products
  • Formaldehyde resin, an ingredient in many nail care products
  • Sunscreens, often found in cosmetic moisturizers, lip balms and foundations

Everyday Health provides a list of specific ingredients that includes:

  • Metals, such as aluminum; nickel; cobalt; chromium and lead, found in antiperspirants, hair dyes and makeup
  • Acid in products designed to remove dead skin cells, treat acne and oily skin, or normalize skin cell maturation and help promote collagen stimulation
  • Emollients, such as lanolin; coconut butter; cocoa butter; isopropyl palmitate; isostearyl isosterate; and myristyl lactate, found in moisturizers
  • Sulfates found in shampoo, body wash and soap
  • Essential oils found in shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and face creams

For more information on allergens in cosmetics, regulation and safe use, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s “Consumers” pages under the “Cosmetics” tab.

What do you do if you think you may be allergic to one of your beauty products?

First, stop using it. Next, schedule an appointment with CT Sinus Center for thorough testing and a clear diagnosis on what is triggering your allergic reaction. Once the allergy is determined, our expert physicians will discuss all possible treatment options and put you on an individualized treatment plan that makes sure your personal hygiene routine won’t make you sick.

Call 860-BALLOON to schedule your appointment at one of CT Sinus Center’s four conveniently-located offices today.

For more information on all allergy and sinus conditions, visit the CT Sinus website and blog.

Scratching Out Skin Allergies

Skin AllergiesSometimes you wear your allergies on your sleeve, or at least under it if you suffer from skin allergies. These allergies, while usually not life-threatening, can be very uncomfortable. There are four types of skin allergies recognized by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology:

1. Hives (Urticaria) are bumps on the skin that usually itch, but can burn too. The  reaction can be caused by the following conditions:

  • Foods
  • Medications
  • Common allergens (pollen, animal dander, latex, insect stings)
  • Environmental factors (heat, cold, sunlight, emotional stress)
  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Genetics

2. Angioedema is similar to hives, but affects deeper levels of skin. It can be life-threatening when occurring in the throat or on the tongue because it may hinder breathing.

3. Contact dermatitis: This reaction occurs when an allergen comes into contact with your skin. It appears as a red, itchy rash and can be quite uncomfortable. According to WebMD, the following are the most common causes of contact dermatitis:

  • Nickel (a metal used in jewelry and snaps on jeans, makeup, lotions, soaps, shampoos)
  • Sunscreens and bug sprays
  • Medications you put on your skin (antibiotics, anti-itch creams)
  • Fragrances
  • Cleaning products
  • Plants
  • Latex (plastic gloves, elastic in clothing, condoms, balloons)
  • Chemicals

4. Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, manifests as itchy, red and dry skin. It affects people of all ages, but usually begins in early childhood. Eczema is not actually caused by the body’s release of histamines as in most allergic reactions. In fact the exact cause is unknown, but there is a proven link between seasonal allergies and eczema.

There are few things you can do to self-treat skin allergies, and in most cases, the reaction will go away on its own. Treatments include:

The problem is that when you are re-exposed to the allergen, the reaction comes back.

The best thing to do is to avoid the allergen completely, but you can’t do that until you know exactly what it is. Even then, completely avoiding it may not be realistic.

However, if you suffer from skin allergies, our expert physicians at our sister office Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat can help. When you come in for an appointment, our doctors will take the time to sit down with you and thoroughly discuss your symptoms. They will then do a very thorough skin test to determine what exactly you’re allergic to. Next they will discuss all possible treatment options and put you on an individualized treatment plan that is sure to make your life much more comfortable.

Call (888) 230-3715 today to schedule your appointment at one of Westwood’s  three conveniently- located offices, and say goodbye to your irritation — skin and otherwise.

For more information on sinus allergy conditions, visit the CT Sinus website and blog.