Allergic reaction to 14K white gold band
A discussion started in 2004 but continuing through 2018(2004)
Q. My boyfriend purchased me a 14K white gold band with diamonds. I wore it for about a year with no problems. Now all of a sudden I seem to be allergic to it. Its almost as if its burning my finger if I wear it too long. (my finger turns pink and itches like crazy). I have other white gold jewelry that I wear daily with NO problems. Of course I am wondering what this ring is TRULY made of because if I were allergic to gold, all of my jewelry would cause this type of reaction. I am confused. How can I find out what this ring is truly made of? Can I have it dipped in platinum? If so, where?Michelle D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Hyattsville, Maryland
(note: Michelle has posted a followup below)
A. Your dermatologist can help you by determining whether this is a yeast infection or a nickel allergy, or what. They have a simple test to see if you are allergic to nickel, and it certainly could be that you now are allergic but weren't formerly. This is an acquired allergy, but one that you'll have for life if that's what it is.
You can also check your jewelry for the presence of nickel with a Nickel spot-test kit, available on-line from a couple of places (adv. nonickel.com).
While I'm confident that your ring is gold, remember that 14 k gold is 14/24ths gold, and 10/24ths something else. And in most cases in the USA today, with white gold that 'something else' is largely nickel.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Q. Thanks for your response Ted. While I am no allergist/dermatologist, I truly don't believe that I am allergic to gold. Here's why: I wear a white gold necklace, white gold bracelet and white gold earrings daily-- with NO reaction whatsoever (albeit these other pieces weren't purchased from the same jewelry store as the ring) Isn't it rather odd that I only have this bizarre reaction on the finger where I where this band? If I were allergic to gold, wouldn't I have this bizarre rash on my wrist, neck and ears too? It's gotta be something else!Michelle D [returning]
- Hyattsville, Maryland
A. Although the ring is gold, we're talking about nickel. 14 K gold is 10/24ths something else. That something else can be the well known allergen nickel, or it can be a different "whitening" metal like palladium.
I'm not saying it's a sure thing, but your ring may be 10/24ths nickel while all your other white gold jewelry is 10/24ths palladium. The area under your ring, which fits reasonably tightly, may sweat (conductive salt water in the pores of the ring) a lot more than your neck, bringing about far more contact with nickel. The posts on your white gold earrings are probably surgical steel rather than white gold. It may be a little bit of everything: more sweat there, a growing allergy to nickel, higher nickel content in the ring.
Again, your dermatologist can be more definitive, but nickel allergy is a very common problem, and growing (it's estimated that 40 percent of women under 30 have it); and newly acquired nickel allergies are a commonplace too. Paint the inside of your ring with clear nail polish as a temporary measure to see what effect this has on your reaction.
Still, it is not necessarily a nickel allergy or metal allergy of any sort. Many women have responded effusively to letter 33777 , which suggests boiling your ring in vinegar and hydrogen peroxide [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] -- it's worth a try! Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
A. Ted is right. The only pure gold is 24 karat - anything less contains other metals such as nickel and copper. Pure gold is very soft and these metals are added to improve its hardness and wear resistance. If you have a pure gold ring, it will soon wear away, just by natural abrasion against your skin. To prolong the life of gold jewelry, jewelers use lower karat (or purity) gold alloys. Unfortunately some alloying metals such as nickel can cause skin dermatitis resulting in an allergic response to the metal. In the case of nickel, it is also known as "nickel itch". I suspect you suffer from this medical complaint, but be assured, you are not alone! It is reckoned that as many as 15% of females suffer from this complaint. Until the 1970's nickel dermatitis was reckoned to be a "female disease", but that was only because nickel was used in the clasps of bras and suspender belts and men didn't usually wear jewelry (or bras and suspender belts!); since then there has been an increasing trend for men to wear jewelry and the number of men getting dermatitis is increasing. The downside is that once you have become sensitive to metals like nickel, there is nothing you can do to overcome the problem, you just have to live with it and avoid nickel contact. You may be able to use barrier protection, but this is variable in its levels of success. The only thing you can do to avoid "nickel itch" is to insist on nickel-free jewelry (I'm sure no lady would find that a problem!). I know of some dermatologists who insist that people can become sensitized to gold, but their claims are based only on low karat alloys and they have conveniently forgotten that these alloys contain sensitizing metals. If you lived in Europe, you would not have this problem, because it is illegal to sell jewelry that contains nickel in levels sufficient to cause nickel itch. This legislation initially played havoc with the cheap jewelry industry, but it was soon overcome by the jewelry manufacturers and now both the industry and consumers are much happier and less itchy!.
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
Q. I just read the string regarding allergies to gold. I am currently suffering from a very frustrating skin condition that doesn't fit any clear diagnosis. I am experiencing severe reactions on my eyelids, neck, and folds of my arms/elbows (although the dermatologist thinks the arms may be something different). I have just been through an intensive set of patch tests (skin testing) and the only thing I reacted to was gold- not nickel or anything else. My dermatologist recommended I remove all gold jewelry for 8 weeks to determine whether that could be causing the problem.
Have you heard of this before? Is it possible to have a reaction on your eyelids and neck, even though there is no contact with gold there? My dermatologist claims that the gold can leach through my bloodstream, and manifest itself in areas with the thinnest skin (eyelids & neck).
Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. This is extremely frustrating! Thanks so much.
- Alexandria, Virginia
January 12, 2011
A. Heather S- It is quite possible to have an allergic reaction somewhere other than where the gold is. The residual amounts of gold left on your fingers mix with the moisture on them. If you then touch your eyelids or somewhere else the mixture will transfer and cause a reaction. I am allergic to both nickel and gold (found out today in fact). I never noticed the problem with gold because I would not get a reaction where I wore my gold jewelry, or it was seldom enough that I attributed it to something else. I suspected I was allergic to nickel, however, because every time I wore a cheap ring I would have extreme reaction on my ring finger and the surrounding fingers. Turns out, my family discovered a long time ago that I was allergic to nickel (it's in my medical file), but because I "have so many allergies" they forgot.
Both my mom and sis are allergic to nickel and they use clear nail polish to create a barrier to protect themselves. This should work with gold or other metals as well.
- San Jose, California USA
Q. I got married a year ago and after 3 days of wearing my wedding ring my finger started to blister, some-one mentioned skin guard, have you ever heard of this?Stephen B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
private - Aberdeen, Scotland
adv. NoNickel has a number of different "protection" products like that.
I have just come across this discussion, over a year later, but I am hoping someone might be able to suggest why I am experiencing heavy aches in my left hand when ever I wear my 18 ct white gold wedding ring. When I switch the ring to my right hand I get the same dull ache a few hours later. I have read up on reactions to nickel on various web sites, but these have all been skin reactions rather than the arthritic type dull aches that I get.
- London, England
March 3, 2010
A. To Christopher W - my hand aches from my ring, too.
I have a white gold engagement ring that I am constantly having to take off. After wearing it for a while my ring finger will begin to ache. Eventually the ache seems to spread to the entire hand. I have to switch hands, but after a while the other hand experiences the same problem. I take it off to sleep, so that my hands can get a rest. I haven't been able to find any answers as to why this happens. I'm glad I'm not alone.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
January 17, 2008
Q. I have just come across this site and found it very interesting. I have both a white gold engagement ring and a white gold wedding band with diamonds (about 10 along top). I don't get a reaction when I wear the engagement ring but do get one when I wear the wedding band with diamonds. If this is a nickel reaction wouldn't I get this "rash" when I wear both? Could it have something to do with the diamonds?Angela M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Astoria, New York
January 21, 2008
Q. My name is Aimee and I am 30 years old. In September of 2007 I had my first child. In March of 2007 my husband bought me a 14k gold engagement ring to replace the one he had previously bought. In April when we got married I also began to wear a 14k gold wedding band. At the time of our wedding I was four months pregnant. I had no problems with either ring until August 2007 when I was eight months pregnant. At this time my finger would become red and inflamed and little water type blisters were present. I would take my rings off for a couple days and it would clear up. As soon as I began wearing my rings again, the problem would return. This is still happening. I spoke to the jeweler who we purchased the rings from and he told me that your pH balance changes during pregnancy which can cause this reaction. He claims that when my son is between six and eight months old my pH balance should return to normal and this will resolve itself. Have you heard of this happening? I'm wondering if the jeweler was just coming up with an easy answer to get me out of his hair or if my pregnancy could really be the cause. Thank you for your time.Aimee J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Henderson, Nevada
(note: Aimee has posted a followup below)
March 7, 2008
A. Have your white gold ring dipped in Rhodium by a jeweler. It's a hard metal and will whiten up your ring and you will not have sensitivity to it any longer. It will last about 6 months on average. I had the exact symptoms two years after wearing my wedding bands and I did always have my rings treated every six months while being cleaned. Then I moved away from my local jeweler and stopped getting them dipped...this is when my reaction began so it was easy for me to conclude what had been protecting my skin previously. It only costs about $25 to be coated.Shelly M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Nashville, Tennessee
April 8, 2008
Q. I, too, am experiencing the same inflamed, itchy, small water-blistered skin around my white 14k gold ring. I wore a single engagement band for a year, and it started happening when I added the wedding band to it. I have spoken to several people, but I haven't had a chance to get to the dermatologist. At this point, I am willing to try anything! I will definitely try dipping it in the metal mentioned above (Rhodium?). I heard from various people different theories... one saying to rid of the infection by using an antifungal type cream and the other to use a hydrocortizone. I have been using hydrocortizone, and it seems to be working well enough. I can at least wear my ring throughout the day, take it off at night to let it heal a little, and get it through till the next day. Thanks for the other good ideas!Lisa P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Fenton, Missouri
April 27, 2008
A. My husband and I have been married for almost 3 years. We re-rhodiumed the ring during cleaning for the first two years but have not gotten the ring re-rhodiumed since last July. Just this month, I have started having a reaction on my ring finger. IT is red and itchy with little bumps. I suspect that as soon as we get it re-rhodiumed I will not have this problem any longer. It also makes your ring look like new....just FYI.
Good luck everyone! I'll let you know if it works!
- Hollywood, Maryland
May 21, 2008
Just a follow up to my comment above. I had my rings re-dipped in rhodium. The jeweler insisted this would not fix the problem but he was so wrong. Ever since I got my rings back I have been able to wear them without any trouble. I have not had any reaction. The rhodium obviously helps. I know it won't last forever and definitely plan on having it done again as soon as it wears off. I definitely recommend it and thank you to Shelly for the heads up!Aimee J [returning]
- Henderson, Nevada
July 29, 2008
! I got married December 2007 and have a white gold wedding band set. I had no problems until about 3 weeks ago and then my skin under my wedding band started turning red irritated, I would take off my ring and in about day and a half it would go away. but when putting ring back on it would reappear. So after googling I think I got my answer, so I think I am going to see my dermatologist and hopefully can get some solution I definitely don't want to stop wearing my wedding band.Susan L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Nashville, Tennessee
July 31, 2008
I too experience the same itchy, burning and blistering on my finger due to my wedding ring. I have been wearing my ring for 10 years and it usually occurs right before summer. I typically stop wearing the ring until it completely clears up. I will try the Rhodium dipping. Thanks!Cynthia C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Whittier, California
August , 2008
A. Hi, Cynthia. Even before trying the rhodium dipping I would suggest you consider the boiling in peroxide and vinegar described in letter 33777. Many women have reported startling success and it costs almost nothing. Good luck!
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
September 10, 2008
Q. I have a diamond & white gold eternity band that began causing redness, itching, and slight swelling on my left hand ring-finger in May 2008. It makes a red stripe in the exact width of the band. It will usually clear up if I go without jewelry on that finger for 3 to 5 days but it comes back as soon as I wear the eternity band again. I know the solution; don't wear the band on my left hand. BUT - what I don't understand is that I have no adverse reaction whatsoever when I wear that same ring on my right hand ring finger. Why would it irritate one hand and not the other?Monica W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Atlanta, Georgia
November 3, 2008
Q. SAME THING WITH ME, I've been wearing my white gold ring for about 3 years now.
I have always worn it only taking it off when I have a shower or bath. Its white gold it was my mums and she gave it to me iv never had a problem before but a few weeks ago a had a red itchy band around my ring finger I took the ring off for a couple of weeks until it went away.
I assumed it was a burn or something, It looked like a burn it also peeled as it healed. After the rash had totally gone a left it a couple more weeks and last night before I went to bed I put it back on.
I woke up in the middle of the night with my baby boy and noticed the red band on my finger was back. It was really itchy and starting to blister!
I've taken the ring off now and am going to see a dermatologist but I'm googled this and I'm guessing I'm allergic to nickel.
I've also been wearing another gold ring on my other hand for a year (never been taken off) and its fine. I don't understand how I can be allergic to one gold ring and not another but maybe its because one is white gold and one is just gold. The nickel must be higher in the white gold ring. (thankfully my fave ring is the one I am NOT allergic too lol)
- Manchester, Cheshire, England
January 1, 2009
Q. I too Got married 2 years ago, I just had a baby boy 9 months ago and Just the last 3 months I removed my white gold band and it looks like my finger has been burned just where the band was and I am wondering what I too should do?Kim M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Charlotte, North Carolina
February 25, 2009
A. This has happened to me as well, and it wasn't due to a metal allergy, but a buildup of soap and moisture (possibly leading to some bacterial/fungal infection). I'll have no problems with my ring, until one day I find the skin under the ring is red, swollen, and flaky. When the rash was very bad, I would also develop small blisters as well. The rash is painfully itchy, so much that it can wake me up in the middle of the night and makes me want to tear off my ring immediately.
When this happens, I take my ring off and the rash usually goes away very quickly. By the next day, it doesn't itch as much, by day 2 or 3, most of the redness and flakiness has gone away. After a week, the skin looks normal again. Even if the rash is completely gone, DO NOT put your ring back on. Wait at least 2 weeks to ensure every last trace of the rash/infection is gone. Before putting your ring on, make sure you disinfect it. I soak the ring in a mixture of 1 part Hydrogen Peroxide and 2 parts plain white vinegar. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes, and then boil the ring in plain water for another 15 minutes. I usually string up my ring and dangle it from a wooden spoon so that it won't touch the bottom of the pot and get too hot.
Now, the ring is disinfected AND clean. (The diamonds are so sparkly again!) I recommend doing this step every month, to avoid having the rash come back. I got lazy and my rash came back after 7 months.
Here are some conditions that make it likely to be a soap/bacterial/fungal rash and not a metal allergy:
Ring is platinum (though even some platinum can contain alloys that cause allergies, this is much more common in white gold. This infection can easily happen with any type of ring, but allergies are less common with platinum ones.)
Ring fits snugly (I did not have an issue until I got my ring resized to be smaller after almost losing it.)
Stones use a channel, or low-profile, setting. (The holes on the underside of the ring can trap moisture)
Rash occurs on the right side of the finger (towards the middle finger, or on the left side if the ring is one the right hand). This is probably because it's easier to trap moisture on the higher side of the ring.
You don't take off your ring when washing hands, showering, cleaning dishes, exercising, etc.
It seems that many people also start experiencing this issue when pregnant or shortly after giving birth. That didn't apply to me, but I wonder if people start washing their hands much more often after having a baby (all those diaper changes!) or if bloating is making their rings fit more tightly. I wonder also if pregnancy causes the body to react more strongly to potential irritants. No idea, this is just a theory on my part.
Good luck! Try the vinegar/peroxide solution. It worked for me.
- Washington DC
November 22, 2009
I am responding to the first question posted on this page. The EXACT same thing has happened to me, after wearing my white gold engagement ring for 1 1/2 years, I just recently got burn-like marks that itch and hurt.
The one thing I noticed is that this started happening after I brought it into the jewellery store to have it repaired and cleaned.
Is it possible that they cleaned the ring with some sort of a chemical, or have removed something from the ring to give me these reactions? I am not familiar with cleaning procedures used on jewellery, or if they even use chemicals.
If this is not a possibility, I will see a dermatologist to determine what my allergy is. Thank you so much for the question (as I thought it was only me with this problem) and the great answers that were posted. I really appreciate your time!
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
March 18, 2010
!! Okay, so after a week of wearing my ring I started getting a rash so I took it off. The more alarming thing, however, is that my finger puffed up like a balloon and was very painful at first. Not just swollen skin, like my whole finger has been swollen for 3 days. I am going to try the vinegar/hydrogen peroxide thing, but I haven't been able to find anyone else saying their whole finger swelled up!Cayla Fisher
- Waco, Texas
December 15, 2010
Q. I'm allergic to nickel. can I wear 14k white gold diamond stud earrings?
I also want to get my ears pierced. can I wear surgical steel earrings while my ears heal?
student - Sacramento, California, United States
A. Hi Frank. Some white gold is palladium based instead of nickel based. Try a "nickel-free" supplier (adv. nonickel.com), or buy them when traveling in Europe where leachable nickel is not allowed in jewelry.
I am not an earring expert, but I think the posts of most gold earrings are surgical stainless steel rather than gold.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
December 22, 2010
Q. I've had my wedding set for about 4 years now. When I first got it I didn't have any issues until I had them soldered together. After that my finger started having a blistery rash. I learned this was due to my allergy to the nickel and I had it rhodium plated. Here it is almost 4 years later and my ring finger is starting to have the same reaction. I took it back to the jeweler and learned that the rhodium plating on average only lasts about a year, so I'm lucky I made it this long.
Other than having it rhodium plated every 1-3 years, do I have any other options? I've heard of having it dipped in platinum.. would this last longer?
My husband has mentioned possibly buying another ring someday, I know that platinum doesn't contain nickel and have been reading up on tungsten and titanium, however the selection for women's rings is not very feminine and came across something called "palladium". Is that a newer option for jewelry? Is there anything you can tell me about it? So far it seems cheaper than platinum, but more versatile than titanium or tungsten when it comes to ring styles.
Any help you could give would be great! My wedding rings are very precious to me and if possible I'd love to save them, but also don't want to continue to have this allergic reaction.
consumer - Gresham, Oregon USA
November 4, 2011
Q. Hi there; I've been reading all the comments and it's about the same with me too! After wearing my wedding ring no problems for a year and a half the last six months every time I wear it I get little red bumps that itch insane. They have clear fluid in them then its dries out, flakes, cracks, burns like fire, then the cycle starts again as soon as I wear my ring. So I thought I had narrowed this down to I think a gold but could be nickel allergy. So I had a very good jeweler size my ring up and line it with platinum, but it still happens if I wear it! It has been much harder to get my finger to fully heal. What else could this be? Or what else can I do? Thanks!Brenna Oberlander
- Fruita, Colorado, USA
November 12, 2011
Q. I also have the same problem but I've been wearing my rings for 2 years and now its starting to spread all over my hand. Should I take them off? Would it help clear it if I did?Stephanie Miller
- Williamsburg, Virginia
November 15, 2011
I just want to say thank you to everyone for posting about this "mystery rash" and for posting helpful hints on how to take care of it!! The vinegar/peroxide soak and then boil in water seems to have worked!!
Just a background, I have been wearing my wedding band set for three years without any problems. The band and engagement ring are both 14k yellow gold and have been soldered together by my jeweler. The engagement band has to diamonds set on either side of an oval ruby.
Anyway, I do take my ring in for cleanings maybe two times a year, but I also clean it at home with a sudsy ammonia/water mixture and a toothbrush. In the past 8 months, suddenly I started having a rash appear on my ring finger on the side closest to my middle finger all the way up to the area behind where the ruby sits, but NOT ALL THE WAY AROUND my finger. My finger begins to itchy really, really bad, but just in that area. It turns fire red and gets little tiny water blisters and I have to keep my ring off. After a few days, the rash gets very scaly and sometimes my skin peels. Once the rash would go away, I would try wearing my ring again but within about an hour or two of putting the ring back on, the rash would appear.
At first I thought that I might be having an allergic reaction to the antibacterial soap used at work. I thought maybe that it was getting trapped under by ring and maybe it was causing my skin to burn. Especially because on the inside of my engagement band, there are a couple small holes, and I figured that the little blisters were right wear the holes in the ring are.
I brought my own soap to work that does not contain triclosan and I would wash my hands without the ring on. Nope, that did not stop it. I read on-line that athlete's foot cream would help--which it did...I used it for ten days/twice daily without wearing my ring. The rash did go away, but within an hour or two of putting on my ring, the rash appeared.
My jeweler told me that it was more than likely a nickel allergy. However, I had a hard time believing this, because I wear costume jewelry on a daily basis (I am a receptionist) and I never, ever, ever itch, have gotten a rash, or anything from any of that jewelry. The lady told me that my only option would be getting a new ring in platinum...well, I don't want a new ring. I like MY ring and I like the yellow gold as I think it goes well with the ruby. Plus, honestly, I can't AFFORD a new platinum ring right now!!!
I came home on Friday, searched the internet, and this site came up. When I started reading that this same rash was happening with so many who are wearing platinum rings, I knew a knew ring was not the answer. My husband was worried about me boiling the ring, but at the jeweler they use a steam cleaner and I am sure that is much hotter than boiling water!
I soaked my ring for 15 minutes in a 2 to 1 solution of white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Then I boiled the ring in water for 15 minutes. I suspended the ring on a string tied to a spoon. Then I just gently scrubbed it off with a soft toothbrush.
I was so worried about putting the ring back on. I didn't want to break out in the painful rash again. It used to itch SO bad. I have been wearing my ring since Friday (took it off to shower, wash hands, sleep) and it's now Tuesday and there is NO rash.
Now, I don't think that this will work for every single person that gets a rash from their ring--some people are having nickel allergies...however, this does lead me to believe that this strange rash that appears on the ring finger, only towards the middle finger side, with tiny water blisters (which there are TONS of messages on the internet about!) is caused by a fungus or bacteria. I don't know if it's the vinegar/peroxide soak, the boiling, or the combination of both that fix the problem. But, I am not taking any chances. I think I may try doing this once a month just to keep the ring clean and the rash at bay. My fingers are crossed and I am SO glad I can wear my ring again. It's a daily reminder of the sacrament of marriage that I promised, and, the ring is too dang expensive NOT to be able to wear!!
I sure hope this helps anyone else with this problem.
- Prescott, Wisconsin, USA
November 21, 2011
Just wanted to post an update...it's been well over a week since I used the vinegar/peroxide solution to soak my ring and then followed it up by boiling my ring for 15 minutes in water... No signs of the rash at ALL!
Before, I would wear my ring for an hour or two and the rash would start.
So, again, thanks for the suggestion whoever posted it first!
- Prescott, Wisconsin, USA
January 11, 2012
A. What you might be experiencing is not actually any kind of allergic reaction to metal, but in fact an allergic reaction to what is trapped in your ring. Is your ring hollow in any part on the inside of the shank? If so, what might be happening is that you have lotion, body soil, soap, etc. getting caught inside your ring and building up, to the point of actually damaging the skin it touches. I read that many of you would take off your ring and it would clear up in a few days, but then would put the ring back on and it would return. I would recommend either taking your jewelry to a jeweler to clean, or do it yourself with some windex and a toothbrush, really getting in to any nooks and crannies to clean out the junk that has built up. This is a very common thing that my husband and I see in the jewelry business. While allergies to nickel are also quite common, a lot of times an allergy to a metal is mistaken for this problem. The best solution to prevent this is to either invest in a solid banded ring, to prevent this problem, or be very, VERY diligent in removing your ring(s) to clean, bath, apply lotion, etc. And to also keep your ring clean as part of that regimen. Good luck to all.Tia Adams
- Farmingdale, Maine, USA
January 17, 2012
Thank you everyone who has contributed to this discussion.
It is the middle of summer in Australia and my rash has returned.
Up till now I have tried to ignore the red itching on my ring finger but I am tired of it.
Because we are having a beach holiday I thought it might be the salt water as it happened last year at the same time but all your responses have given me an incentive to act.
I will buy some peroxide tomorrow and follow your instructions.
Failing that I'll try dipping it in Rhodium.
I feel so much more positive as I had thought I might need to stop wearing my rings that I have had for over 10 years.
- Melbourne Australia
February 22, 2012
! I just wanted to add to this conversation. I have an allergy to gold. Usually yellow gold but sometimes white gold. I have been to doctor, and had many of the same questions. How come I wore my wedding ring for years with no problem now I break out in an itchy rash and if I continue to wear it, it will break open to an oozy rash. This is what I was told and it actually has made most sense. Every piece of jewelry is cut with different types and amounts of nickel. This is why some things won't bother you and others will. Also this tends to happen more in women, because our hormones can dictate reactions. I have had years were I could wear my ring no problem, yet every pregnancy I couldn't get near gold. Since my last child it has seemed to have stayed with me. Necklaces if fine jewelry don't bother me, but if a cheaper piece I will get really red and itchy. Rings are my worst offenders, I think the moisture and lack of air helps facilitate the rash. Summer is worse than winter, but if it's really cold it will break out too. Good luck. I have tried numerous topical medications, prescription strength. What works best is to just take it off and let it heal and take my rings off at night, make sure I really dry them in between washes, and keep my hands moisturized.Amberlee Lewis
- Windsor, California, USA
February 23, 2012
A. Hi, Amberlee. It is possible to get jewelry with no nickel in it. In fact, nickel is not allowed in jewelry in Europe and much of the world. It is also possible to get 24 kt pure gold, although it's very soft and may not work for filigrees, engravings, and mountings. Maybe a ring with a 24 kt shank or inlay on the shank would do.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
February 29, 2012
Q I am having the same issue as the two posters who have pain in joints but no skin problems when wearing rings. It is more of an arthritic thing for me. If I move the ring to the other hand the pain moves there as well. Any ideas on this?Wendy Crisp
- Silver City, New Mexico
March 19, 2012
Q. My issue is a bit different. I am male, and after wearing my wedding band (white and regular gold combo with 3 diamonds) for about 12-13 years, I suddenly developed a hard red spot on my pinky finger where the band touched it. No issues anywhere else, just that tiny spot.
I am diabetic and as 'boys will be boys' I used one of my sterile lancets to poke at the top of the sore spot. No pain, but it probably bled for 2 hours. And I mean BLED... lots of it. Dumb, I know!
Anyways I stopped wearing my ring. The spot disappeared after a few weeks.
Tried wearing the ring for the first time again this past weekend. Within a couple hours it was getting itchy and red on my pinky finger.
If it's an allergic response, why wouldn't the ring finger be affected?
- Leduc, Alberta, Canada
June 8, 2012
Q. My boyfriend bought me a white gold promise ring. I was a little worried about a potential allergic reaction, but I have been wearing it for 5 years now. All of the sudden this morning, my finger is red and blistered. I don't want to remove the ring. Is there a way to prevent/ heal this at the same time without getting rid of my ring?Theresa Phillips
- Santa Maria, California
April 17, 2013
Q. This is a most interesting post. I have been wearing an 18K gold neck chain from Columbia South America since 1986. I have developed a rash on my stomach, back and neck and have been concerned it might be from my gold neck chain. I have taken it off and the rash and itch seems to be subsiding. Can that happen after all these years?Ronald Robertson
- Brantford, Ontario, Canada
June 23, 2014
A. MY RING DID THE SAME THING AFTER WEARING IT FOR 2 1/2 YEARS ... IT IS A SOLID BAND WITH DIAMONDS ... SO I AM GOING TO TRY THE VINEGAR SOLUTION.SJ KEY
- MUSTANG, Oklahoma USA
August 18, 2014
Q. I have experienced joint pain like the other 3 posters. Does anyone know if the wearing of gold or nickel can contribute to this condition?Giancarlo A.
- Mansfield, Texas, USA
August 5, 2014
Q. I got my wedding rings upgraded a couple months ago. White Gold. I am experiencing this itchy red area with bumps and flakey skin. I have another white gold ring I wear since 2001 and never have problems. I decided to google and found this web page. After reading the comments I realized something: my other white gold ring is rhodium plated once a year! Now to get hubby to read this! I saw someone say they get it done for $25 what a deal. My jeweler charges me $75. I guess I should check around and ask my jeweler why he charges so much.Susan Madden
- Buckeye, Arizona, USA
A. Hi Susan. What will your auto mechanic do for you for $25? Or your plumber? Businesses have to charge for their time and I doubt that a good job can be found for $25 :-(
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
June 8, 2015
For years I thought I was allergic to my wedding set. Yellow gold, I would get a rash, redness, and itching. Taking the set off and applying an anti itch cream it cleared up. Then I discovered, after 20 years, that soap residue that was collected under the ring and the moisture that stayed longer under the ring was the problem. So carefully rinsing my hands after washing dishes, my hands, or cleaning and making sure the finger was well dried, the problem went away. So then I had 28 yrs more before he passed away of itch-free finger. Probably a yeast infection problem.Kathleen McCauley
- Livingston, Texas USA
Hi Kathleen, sorry for your loss. 48 years!
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
March 12, 2016
Q. Similar problem, but with a bit of different twist. The newer white gold engagement ring will give my left ring finger a rash and itching. I have moved it to my right ring finger--no issues. ALSO, I have put an old 10K yellow gold ring with hollow channels on my left ring finger, with no issues.
I can't figure out if it is my engagement ring--but why wouldn't it cause the same reaction on another finger; or is it my finger--but why would I not have a reaction with a another ring with similar inside construction (albeit different metal.)
A while back, I did do the peroxide/white vinegar boil on my engagement, but that didn't last too long. I'm considering have the hollow portions on the inside sides of that ring filled, but I somehow doubt this is the problem.
I'm at my wits end trying to solve this!
- Louisville, Kentucky USA
March 18, 2016
A. Hello, I don't have an answer of why the problem of itching only occurs on your left finger and not your right. You could have the ring plated in rhodium to solve the issue. Apparently the deep recess in the ring is causing the problem. It will probably be less expensive to have it plated than filled with a precious metal. Good Luck.Mark Baker
Process Engineering - Phoenix, Arizona USA
January 15, 2018
Q. I just reached the ripe old age of 63 and decided to have my nose pierced. I know that I have a nickel allergy. But I was told that all white gold was coated with rhodium and therefore even if nickel was present the rhodium would prevent any allergic reaction. I recently ordered a new piece of jewelry for my nose, a diamond set in 14k white gold from India. After only a day my nose because red and painful after wearing my new jewelry. The next day I had signs of a possible infection, it was warm with a very slight white discharge. I removed the new nose stud after 4 days and I am healing. I love white gold and I loved my diamond nose stud. But, I think I might be allergic to it. I thought it was rhodium coated. But, I don't know for sure.
I am going to take it to the jeweler to have it rhodium plated if it wasn't already. I am wondering if nickel in the white gold caused the irritation. Maybe it's just a coincidence that my nose because infected right after putting the white gold jewelry in...But I don't want to take any chances until I solve the rhodium question. In the meantime I ordered a new diamond nose stud in platinum. Fortunately it's a very small item. I had waited years to wear white gold! I know that in the future, I will always ask for nickel free gold.
Make-up consultant - Medford, Oregon United States of America
A. Hi Tala, sorry for your troubles. I doubt that rhodium plating will protect you from the nickel allergy because it is but millionths of an inch thick, and not pore-free. Nickel-free white gold (any white gold from Europe) should be fine; unfortunately, the USA allows nickel in jewelry despite the well-known and widespread problem of nickel allergy.
I am not asserting that nickel caused the infection though. Good luck.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
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