There is no cure for nickel allergy. Once you develop a sensitivity to nickel, you will develop a rash (contact dermatitis) whenever you come into contact with the metal. Once a particular site, such as an earlobe, has reacted to nickel, that site will react even more when re-exposed to nickel.
Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications to reduce irritation and improve the condition of a rash from a nickel allergy reaction:
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- Corticosteroid cream, such as clobetasol (Temovate, Cormax, others) and betamethasone dipropionate (Diprolene). Long-term use of these can lead to skin thinning.
- Nonsteroidal creams, such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic). The most common side effect is temporary stinging at the application site.
- Oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone, if the reaction is severe or a rash covers a large area. These drugs can cause a host of side effects, including weight gain, mood swings and increased blood pressure.
- Oral antihistamine, such as fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec), for relief of itching. However, these tend to be not very effective for skin itching.
- Schram SE, et al. Nickel hypersensitivity: A clinical review and call to action. International Journal of Dermatology. 2010;49:115.
- Usatine RP, et al. The Color Atlas of Family Medicine. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies.; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=8206371. Accessed Dec. 4, 2012.
- Darlenski R, et al. The many faces of nickel allergy. International Journal of Dermatology. 2012;51:523.
- Tips to remember: Allergic skin conditions. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/allergicskinconditions.stm. Accessed Dec. 4, 2012.
- Peiser M, et al. Allergic contact dermatitis: Epidemiology, molecular mechanisms, in vitro methods and regulatory aspects. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 2012;69:763.
- Two cents about nickel. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/Aaaai/media/MediaLibrary/PDF%20Documents/Libraries/EL-skin-allergies-nickel-patient.pdf. Accessed Dec. 4, 2012.
- Usatine RP, et al. Diagnosis and management of contact dermatitis. American Family Physician. 2010;82:249.
- Tattoos and body piercings. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_tattoos.html. Accessed Dec. 6, 2012.
- Tammaro A, et al. Topical and systemic therapies for nickel allergy. Dermatitis. 2011;22:251.
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Dec. 6, 2012.