Having one's ears pierced can trigger an allergy to metal that makes it suddenly impossible to wear any kind of jewelry or even metal buttons, snaps and zippers. At a recent seminar sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology, Alexander Fisher of New York University said that metal allergies "often only become active after a trauma to the skin." Such allergies are most often caused by exposure to nickel, which is present in quality gold, silver and platinum jewelry as well as in cheaper costume jewelry. To avoid metal allergies, Fisher recommends that ears be pierced only with a stainless steel needle and only earrings with stainless steel posts be worn until the earlobes heal.

- BIOSCIENCE, October, 1986


Allergic reactions to jewelry and other metal objects such as snaps and zippers can be triggered by improper ear piercing, according to New York University dermatologist Alexander Fisher. The allergy begins, he says, when the earlobe is punctured and comes into contact with a metal containing nickel, the most common cause of jewelry allergies. Nickel is often used as an alloy in quality gold and silver, as well as costume jewelry. Occasionally, gold itself produces an allergic reaction. To prevent either allergy, Dr. Fisher suggests ears should be pierced only with a stainless-steel needle, and earrings with stainless-steel posts should be worn while the earlobes heal. (Even though nickel is present in some stainless steel, it is bound too tightly to contact the skin.)

- CONSUMERS DIGEST, October, 1986


For millions of people, pretty earrings are a synonym for "ouch." When they wear clip-on or pierced earrings, their ears begin to itch and burn. Within a couple of hours, the pain, weeping skin and, in extreme cases, bleeding and pus, force them to ruefully remove the earrings. Their condition is called contact dermatitis. It is caused by contact with material the victim is allergic to or has become sensitized to. In this case, victims have become sensitized to metal in the earrings. (A better known example of contact dermatitis is a rash caused by poison ivy.)

For years after Connie Bradley of Oakland pierced her ears, she experienced no difficulties. Her allergy developed gradually. "I'd have constant itching around my ears, sometimes the ear lobe would swell. I decided I definitely wouldn't wear any more three-for-a-dollar earrings." After her ears healed, she had her ears pierced again, and wore expensive diamond and gold earrings. "It lasted about a year ... before my ears started itching again. I felt bad I'd bought all these earrings."

Her story is familiar to many women. Studies of nickel plated earrings show that 10 to 15 percent of females suffered contact dermatitis, according to Dr. Barry Asman, an allergist at the Allergy and Asthma Care Center in Monroeville. Physicians say sufferers are most likely to be allergic to nickel, a common jewelry filler.

- The PITTSBURGH PRESS, December, 1988


Getting your ears pierced may not be the completely harmless procedure you were always told it was. According to new research from the John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, ear piercing can cause allergic contact dermatitis-also known as nickel rash.

The condition develops when small amounts of nickel from the metal pin that preserves a newly pierced hole are carried into the body through the bloodstream as the wound heals. As a result, many women then develop a rash whenever they wear gold-plated and other nickel-based jewelry.

- GLAMOUR MAGAZINE, December, 1988