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Five steps your patients can take to reduce nickel exposure

Here are five recommendations on how your patients can potentially avoid nickel exposure, from a California-based dermatologist courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

When a patient has a nickel allergy, the best way to avoid symptoms is to avoid objects containing nickel. However, this can be challenging, since nickel is present in many common household items, said dermatologist Dr. Jenny Eileen Murase, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, University of California San Francisco Medical Center, who was quoted in an AAD press release.

To avoid nickel exposure and reduce symptoms, Dr. Murase recommends the following tips for patients:

  1. Choose jewelry carefully. It’s common for a nickel allergy to develop from wearing jewelry containing nickel. Earrings, earring backs and watches are some of the biggest culprits; however necklaces, rings and bracelets containing nickel can also trigger symptoms. To avoid exposure, patients should only wear jewelry that is nickel-free, hypoallergenic, or made from metals such as surgical-grade stainless steel, 18-, 22-, or 24-karat yellow gold, pure sterling silver, or platinum. In addition, watchbands should be made of leather, cloth or plastic.

  2. Check clothing. It’s also common for belt buckles, bra hooks, and metal buttons, zippers and snaps to contain nickel. This clothing should be replaced with plastic or plastic-coated items. Patients can also create a barrier between these items and the skin by coating the items with clear nail polish. However, the nail polish will need to be re-applied often.

  3. Cover electronics. Recent reports suggest that some electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, and tablets, may contain nickel. To avoid exposure, always use a protective cover on electronic devices.

  4. Substitute household objects containing nickel with objects made of other materials. Examples include brass keys, titanium-coated or stainless steel razors, pots and pans with silicone handles, and titanium or plastic eyeglass frames.

  5. Avoid foods containing nickel if extremely sensitive to nickel. Some foods that contain high amounts of nickel include soy products—such as soybeans, soy sauce, and tofu—licorice, buckwheat, cocoa powder, clams, cashews and figs.

These tips are demonstrated in “Nickel Allergy: How to Avoid Exposure and Reduce Symptoms,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel.

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