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Q. (continuation of thread/letter 32468) 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.
jewelry wearer (and engineer) - Alexandria, Virginia
A. I am sorry you have got an allergy to gold, but as far as I understand it, it is a most unusual thing to get. Most claims of gold allergies are normally due to the lower carat golds, which contain other elements such as nickel. It is usually these that cause the allergy, but poor old gold gets the blame. Have a look at
and go to the gold allergy page - it explains it pretty well.
Regrettably I am not a dermatologist, so I wouldn't argue with a professional one. However, I am intrigued by his patch test for gold - have you details of what was used? The only thing I know that dissolves gold is aqua regia and to have that on your skin would definitely cause a huge reaction and a lot of pain! I have asked a couple of dermatologists in the UK how pure gold can set up an allergy by contact with the skin and they cannot satisfactorily explain it. For a metal to become allergenic, it needs to become "bioavailable"; that is, it can be absorbed by the body, usually through the skin. This is usually achieved by the metal reacting with something that dissolves it, but in the case of gold, the only thing I know is aqua regia....
I think he is right about the reactions being on the thinner parts of skin, but these are also some of the most moist parts of skin, so perhaps the allergy is due, in part to the moisture. Another common complaint associated with gold, especially rings, is when things like washing up liquid and other household materials get trapped between the jewellery and the skin. The skin is normally softer and moister under jewellery, so the chemicals can be absorbed easier and you can get allergic responses. The answer to that is to get your partner to do the washing up (or wear rubber gloves - personally I prefer the former!)
Allergic responses usually start in the area where the metal is in contact with the skin, but the next stage of metal dermatitis is when you get sensitised to the metal. This stage results in any contact with the metal resulting in an allergic response. It is a bit like food allergies, but not as critical. Once you are sensitised to the material, you can come out in the nasty reactions almost anywhere on your body.
I think I would suggest getting a second opinion on the metal testing.
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
I also have an allergy to gold. I am /not/ allergic to nickel as I am able to wear surgical steel which contains nickel. But solid yellow gold, silver, white gold, palladium and platinum all give me a burning rash where it comes in contact with my skin. I am able to wear copper, titanium and surgical steel without problems, although copper does turn skin green so I don't recommend long term wear.Laura McFarland
- Houston, Texas
I too have an allergy to Au (gold) not Ni (nickel), I also have had a patch test that shows a reaction to gold. No reaction to nickel, and I wear nickel products all the time without a reaction.
I find it extremely frustrating to have people tell me that I am not allergic to gold but to nickel. 13% of the worlds population is allergic to gold and the number seems to be slowly increasing. Somehow we need to educated the general public, especially jewelers.
- Marysville, Washington, USA
February 3, 2008
I think I have an allergy to my wedding ring. It gets red and puffy and itchy, I've worn silver rings and nickel with no reaction.
What other allergies are common with a gold allergy?
- Moline, Illinois, USA
April 16, 2008
I Have just been skin patch tested for various different allergies, the most important one being lignocaine, which amongst others has come back positive ++ the other was nickel, which I was already aware of, but to my surprise so was gold, and palladium. The dermatologist informed me that the gold was tested using "gold salt" which apparently is the purest form -- is this very common?
I understand that nickel is quite a common allergy, but I have never heard of gold.
Any information on this or anybody else who has the same I would be interested to know.
- London, England
April , 2008
Hi. As for an allergy to gold, I am certainly not here to argue whether it is possible or not -- that's a topic for allergy researchers. But remember that few of us have ever worn pure gold jewelry or even seen pure gold jewelry. Pure gold jewelry is very soft and probably not useable for jewel prongs and such. 12 karat jewelry is only half gold; 10 karat is even less. So it is possible that people who find themselves reacting to gold jewelry are not in fact allergic to the element gold, but to copper or other metals in the gold jewelry.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
August 20, 2008
I am allergic to gold, but not to silver, platinum, titanium, or white gold. I break out into little topical skin blisters, they then break and bleed. It itches during the initial stages, then hurts like the very devil during the last stage. The strange thing about this allergy is its' timing - it was just two weeks after I was diagnosed as being allergic to codeine and demerol!? Go figure...J. LaBarge Bryan
- New Iberia, Louisiana
July 7, 2009
I have just broken out with a skin rash about a week ago. Apparently it does not itch, bleed, or ooze puss. Also a week ago my friend lent me some gold, which I believe caused my rash. The only thing that is off is that it is all over my body arms, legs, chest, and back. If anyone has an explanation I do want to hear about it.Mike Maille
- Lowell, Massachusetts
September 21, 2010
No puss, just major irritation. When I first got the rash I thought it was a bad omen about my marriage lol. I have an antique gold ring that is a family heirloom. I told my husband I'm definitely not allergic to platinum ;) but I'm not really sure...such a bummer because I am true jewelry collector and nothing else has broken me out.
student - Indianapolis, Indiana
September 24, 2010
Please see letter 33777 and consider the possibility that this may not be a metal allergy. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
October 5, 2010
I just finished undergoing allergy testing, and I am allergic to not only nickel, but also to gold. For those interested, the substance used in my patch testing is gold sodium thiosulfate. An allergy to this substance represents a gold allergy, and according to this one article, and is the second most common contact allergen after nickel
And yes, I believe gold can enter the blood stream via percutaneuous skin absorption. I'm not a doctor, but I'd trust your dermatologist. Did find an interesting article though - can't read the full article, but the abstract of this medical testing found that at the very least, the gold used in the patch test does enter the bloodstream, whether you are allergic to it or not. It is "watered down" gold, but it is still gold (that was extracted by sodium thiosulfate) and since gold can react with your sweat, then it goes to follow it likely can enter your bloodstream and cause rashes in other parts of your body.:
Since jewelry is often mixed with other metal alloys, the best way to figure out metal allergies to is to get tested for them, and not guess, and then to be on the lookout for jewelry you can safely wear (and don't forget to tell your dentist if you have nickel and/or gold allergies!).
- Winnipeg, MB, Canada
June 10, 2011
It's pretty uncommon to have a gold allergy, most people develop it from wearing it constantly for long periods of time (years). You can get tested for it, but there are other metals that they mix into the gold that you can be allergic to. I happen to be allergic to the purer forms of gold and can't wear, or be in contact with anything for any length of time,over 10 karat. It's frustrating, but if you're allergic to gold it's easy to avoid it by buying silver and stainless steal jewelry.Sam Osborne
- Richmond, Virginia, USA
November 11, 2011
I found I was allergic to gold about 18 months after having 3 gold crowns installed. A black line like a necklace appeared on my neck. It took a while to connect it to the crowns ... finally one dermatologist recognized it. Now if I try to wear 18K gold earring hoops, my neck will swell within 24 hours, starting with itching. Otherwise, except for the black line, which diffuses and contracts over time for no apparent reason, I have no symptoms.
I had tons of gold jewelry and no problems before -- this turned up about about age 50.
My mother had a milder form -- if she tried to wear gold, a black mark appeared where the gold touched her skin.
I'm really tired of people who should know better (like dentists) saying there is no such thing as a gold allergy.
Anyone with a gold allergy planning to get a titanium implant should check for sensitivity to titanium.
- Pasadena, California
August 28, 2015
I was just diagnosed with an allergy to gold and my symptoms also show up on my eyelids. The dermatologist told me that outbreaks occur when my gold ring interacts with products containing titanium dioxide (which is in everything - lotion, sunscreen, shaving cream, toothpaste, almost all make up). I am not allergic to any other metal. WEIRD!!!Emily Cochran
- Raleigh, North Carolina
August 15, 2016
I have a confirmed allergy to gold. I had patch testing done and I had a pistols reaction to gold, vanadium and nickel. My grandmother and great grandfather also had gold allergies. It is great to see so many other people posting that they too have a gold allergy. Most of the time, blogs and websites only acknowledge nickel allergies.Meg Kibler
- Anchorage, Alaska, USA