Nickel is usually a harmless metal. Some people develop an allergic reaction with nickel. This may be due to a hyperactive immune system in response to nickel exposure. Various symptoms are experienced by the patient due to nickel allergy. Initially, the symptoms are mild, however, with prolonged exposure; the patient develops severe allergic reactions.

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Can You Die From Nickel Allergy?

Extended systemic exposure to nickel may result in cancer which may lead to fatal consequences. Nickel allergy is one of the most common allergies due to the extensive presence of nickel in many items of everyday life be it belts, jewelry, utensils, keys, and medical devices3. Risk of death depends upon the period of exposure to nickel and the way the body gets exposed. Skin exposure to nickel may cause dermatitis and the severity increases with prolonged exposure. Prolonged skin exposure may result in eczema, rashes, blisters, and itching. Systemic exposure to nickel, as seen in people with occupational hazards, results in more severe and fatal consequences. As there is no cure for nickel exposure, the best way to reduce the symptoms is to avoid exposure to nickel. Patient with prolonged nickel exposure may experience severe asthma attacks due to increased inflammatory mediators. Further, the patient may also suffer from chronic bronchitis and pulmonary fibrosis. In patients with extended systemic exposure to nickel suffers from cancer and death. Various management options may include avoiding nickel contact, wearing jewelry without nickel, steroids to manage symptoms and the nickel-free diet.

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Complications Of Nickel Allergy

Nickel is generally a non-allergic substance but some people are hypersensitive to his metal. Nickel allergies are caused by such people although, like in other allergies, it is not exactly known why such people are more sensitive as compared to other people. In these people, the immune system becomes hyperactive in the presence of nickel as the immune system considers nickel as a harmful substance. Once the immune system gets hyperactivated with nickel, anytime in future, contact with nickel may lead to hypersensitivity reactions. The hypersensitivity reaction can be initiated either the first time contact with nickel or during repeated exposure to nickel. Following are some of the complications experienced by the patients during nickel allergy:

Severe Rashes: Patient with prolonged nickel exposure develops severe rashes on the skin. The patient may also experience eczema that becomes more severe during summer heat1.

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Severe Itching: The patient may experience severe itching and their skin texture becomes equivalent to the burning of the skin. Most commonly the nickel allergy is caused due to wearing of jewelry made of nickels. The common areas of itching include hands, ears, and chest.

Blisters2: Severe nickel allergy may also lead to the development of blisters on the affected area. The immune symptoms get hyperactive and cause blisters.

Draining Fluids: Nickel leads to dermatitis. Dermatitis may result in blisters. These blisters may be weeping blisters. Weeping blisters are filled with fluid and the fluid drains from these blisters. The best way to prevent this condition is to avoid contact with all the items containing nickel as soon as nickel allergy is diagnosed.

Asthma Attacks: Prolong exposure to nickel also leads to asthma attacks in some patients. An asthma attack is commonly found in people who are working in an industry that uses nickel. The fumes of nickel enter the respiratory system leading to hypersensitivity reactions.

Cancer: Prolonged exposure to nickel and failure to avoid contact with nickel in allergic patients may also lead to fatal consequences. The patient may develop cancers of lung, throat, and nose because of extended exposure to nickel.

Conclusion

Various symptoms are experienced by patients suffering from nickel allergy. Women are more prone to nickel allergy due to wearing of jewelry couple with the piercing of ears. Extended exposure results in cancer of throat and nose that may lead to fatal consequences. Other serious symptoms include chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, and an asthma attack.

References:  

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: August 12, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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