Developing an allergy to the jewelry you love can be highly disappointing. When your favorite earrings cause a rash or irritation because they contain dangerous, allergy-inducing metals, you may be upset. If the irritated area develops an infection, you may feel like you can never wear earrings again.
This notion, however, is not true. While the inability to wear those earrings you just bought for an upcoming special occasion—or the ones in that beautiful earring gift box someone gifted you for your birthday—is disheartening, you can find earrings that will not cause the misery of an allergic reaction. You need to do your research in order to verify that your earrings will not irritate your ears. To help you get started, here are the basic facts you need to know in order to find earrings for sensitive ears and prevent painful itchy earlobes.
1. Know What You are Allergic To
When you develop a rash around the site of your earrings, or the piercing gets itchy or crusty, you probably have an allergy to the metal in your jewelry. But not all metals are created equal. While it is true that you can be allergic to any metal, including the purest gold, nickel is the most common metal people develop allergies to. People who develop allergies to nickel can suffer from nickel eczema in addition to contact dermatitis in reaction to exposure.
Nickel is one of the most common metals, found in everything from zippers and water faucets to cell phones and laptops. We develop most allergies through repeated, prolonged exposure to potential allergens, and we are almost constantly exposed to nickel. This is why it is a good idea to stay away from jewelry containing nickel even if you do not currently have an allergy to the metal.
Wearing jewelry with nickel in it will increase your exposure, and thus your risk of developing an allergy. Because earrings go through the skin, this makes your chance of developing an allergy even greater. Once you develop an allergy to nickel, it is not likely to go away, and it could make you sensitive to everything containing nickel, including some foods.
2. Know What to Look For
Now that you know that nickel is the most likely cause of your allergic reaction, it is time to learn what to look for when you shop for jewelry. Many metals can end up with trace amounts of nickel in them regardless of their purity because of exposure during the production process. So whatever kind of metal you choose to go with for your next pair of earrings, try to confirm that the materials they are made of are certified to be nickel-free.
Rose gold and yellow gold are most likely to be free of nickel, though white gold can also be a safe choice. No matter which type of gold you choose, it should be at least 14k, because anything less than that is likely to contain other metal alloys. Sterling silver, titanium, and platinum are also good choices for metals less likely to induce allergic reactions.
3. Make Sure Posts are Also Nickel-free
The earring gift box says those gold drop earrings are 14k but don’t get excited just yet. Even when the earring body is made from a safe metal, sometimes the post can contain nickel. This is because metals like gold and silver are actually too soft to withstand constant wear. So posts are usually a harder metal coated with gold or silver. The supporting metal should be titanium, surgical stainless steel, or other metal less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
In addition to posts potentially having nickel as the supporting metal, the backs can contain nickel. So if you purchase hypoallergenic earrings and still find you have irritation, you may want to consider trying different earring backers before you throw in the towel on earrings altogether.
4. Know Where to Shop
Most higher-quality department and jewelry stores carry gift boxes for earrings labeled hypoallergenic. It may be difficult to verify they are completely nickel-free. You want to do your research to confirm that the earrings are tested at various steps in the manufacturing process, certifying them to be nickel-free.
If you find a company that you trust, you can often order from them online. Rowan offers a monthly subscription to a gift box for earrings that will keep you in supply of original styles on a regular basis. When you order a monthly subscription for earrings you can feel good about, you can get back to that fun form of self-expression that changes with every outfit in your wardrobe.
5. Be Diligent
Though it may seem overwhelming to find the right earrings for you, you now have the information necessary to make a good decision. Consider a monthly subscription to a gift box for earrings in order to keep a steady supply of the latest fashion. Other than ordering an earring gift box, practice makes perfect, and once you get in the groove, you will be able to shop for earrings like a pro!