Treatment

There's no cure for nickel allergy. Once you develop a sensitivity to nickel, you'll develop a rash (contact dermatitis) whenever you come into contact with the metal.

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications to reduce irritation and improve the condition of a rash from a nickel allergy reaction:

  • Corticosteroid cream, such as clobetasol (Clobex, 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 may not be very effective for skin itching.

Phototherapy

This treatment involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of artificial ultraviolet light. It's generally reserved for people who haven't gotten better with topical or oral steroids. It can take months for phototherapy to have an effect on a nickel allergy reaction.

Nov. 18, 2016
References
  1. Goldenberg A, et al. Nickel allergy in adults in the US: 1962 to 2015. Dermatitis. 2015;26:216.
  2. Nickel allergy. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. http://www.aocd.org/?page=NickelAllergy. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
  3. Adkinson NF, et al. Contact dermatitis. In: Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 20, 2016.
  4. Allergic skin conditions. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergic-skin-conditions. Accessed Oct. 25, 2016.
  5. Contact dermatitis. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/skin-allergies/contact-dermatitis. Oct. 23, 2016.
  6. Nickel allergy: How to avoid exposure and reduce symptoms. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/rashes/nickel-allergy. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
  7. Maridet C, et al. The electronic cigarette: The new source of nickel contact allergy of the 21st century? Contact Dermatitis. 2015;73:49.
  8. Tuchman M, et al. Nickel contact dermatitis in children. Clinics in Dermatology. 2015;33:320.
  9. Lusi EA, et al. High prevalence of nickel allergy in an overweight female population: A pilot observational analysis. PLOS One. 2015;3:1.
  10. Fonacier L, et al. Contact dermatitis: A practice parameter update — 2015. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 2015;3:S1.
  11. Brod BA, et al. Management of allergic contact dermatitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 23, 2016.
  12. Prednisone. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed Oct. 25, 2016.
  13. Getting piercing done safely. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/piercings-tattoos/getting-piercing-done-safely. Accessed Oct. 25, 2016.