Is Nickel Allergy A Serious Condition & Can It Be Reversed?

Nickel allergy is a common condition found in both the developed and developing countries because it is a common metal to be used in various industries and its exposure is easily accessible. Female predilection is found for this condition because of the heavy use of nickel in ornaments and jewelry industry.

Is Nickel Allergy A Serious Condition & Can It Be Reversed?

Is Nickel Allergy A Serious Condition?

Usually, nickel allergy is not a serious condition and many people even being allergic to nickel do not develop any symptoms because of either inadequate exposure or insufficient sensitization and primary immune response generation in the body. Even after the sensitization for nickel has developed, the secondary immune response is also mild and generally limited to local symptoms in most of the cases characterized by redness, itching, vesicle formation at the exposed area. It can be dealt with topical corticosteroids and nonspecific soothing medications like emollients etc. No long-term medication is required for it and morbidity is also very less.

But severe allergic reactions and systemic immune response against nickel have also been found in many cases. Such cases are commonly associated with poor compliance of the patient and repeated exposures of the nickel to the body. As the response is directly proportional to the quantity of nickel to which the body is exposed, sometimes occupational exposure is responsible for the life-threatening presentation of symptoms because of exposure to a larger amount nickel at once. In such cases, hospitalization is required immediately and emergency management of the symptoms is essential to prevent morbidity and mortality. Injectable glucocorticoid, injectable antihistaminics, etc. are required to deal with the condition effectively.

Can Nickel Allergy Be Reversed?

If the sensitization has not developed to the nickel and its allergy is detected beforehand then it is possible to prevent the nickel allergy from developing. But once the sensitization has occurred and the primary immune response has been generated then the body develops memory cells against the nickel and there will always be a secondary response on subsequent exposure to nickel. It is then almost impossible to reverse the sensitization; it can be tried with the specific destruction of the cells directed against the allergic substance but it would be more damaging to the normal cells of the body. Whereas the disease reversal in nickel allergy is very easy as it can be prevented with the incorporation of just a few simple measures in the daily lifestyle. Refraining from the usage of nickel-containing ornaments like rings, anklets, necklace, earrings, nose pin, bracelets, wristbands, etc. and carefully selecting the accessories with the clothes because it can be present in the form of zippers, belt buckles, bra hooks, metal buttons, etc. [1].

Various electronic devices like phones, tablets, laptops are also covered with nickel coating so they ought to be selected carefully. Dimethylglyoxime test can be used beforehand on the substances to be suspected of nickel presence because it can detect the quantity to which the body is exposed [2]. The occupational exposure should be minimized with the use of gloves and regular vacations should be taken from the job to decrease the exposure.


Most of the cases associated with nickel allergy go undiagnosed because usually, the body copes with its exposure without any immune response. But sometimes they can also present as symptoms which usually are mild in nature and only local site is involved. Very rarely it can also take the route of severe systemic allergic response which can become life-threatening in very few cases. Although being a mild disease, it should not be considered lightly because serious presentations can also occur.

The reversal of the condition is quite possible and easily doable. Minimizing the exposure to nickel is the core of the reversal technique in a reversal of the sensitization. The secondary immune response can also be minimized with the prevention of usage of nickel associated substances. Medical treatment is very effective in the complete cure of the condition.


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