A metal allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to contact with a specific metal. Your immune system’s sensitivity to metal may develop after your first exposure or after repeated or prolonged exposure.
You can be allergic to any metal, but the most common metal allergies come from
These metals are most typically found in:
- Clothing fasteners, such as zippers, snaps and bra hooks
- Belt buckles
- Eyeglass frames
- Metal tools
- Medical devices
- Laptops or computer tablets
An allergic reaction can present within minutes or days after exposure to metal and may last up to 4 weeks. The reaction typically occurs where your body came into contact with the metal but can sometimes show in other places of your body.
Common symptoms of a metal allergy include
- Rash or bumps on the skin
- Redness or changes in skin color
- Dry patches of skin
- Blisters and draining fluid
To diagnose a metal allergy, you can meet with an allergist who will dive into your health history looking for any consistent triggers to determine if your symptoms are allergic or non-allergic. Your allergist may also recommend a skin test or blood test to determine if you are allergic to a specific metal.
Management and Treatment
The best way to prevent a reaction if you are allergic to metal is to limit your exposure. You can look for items that are usually made with metal that are made with safer substitutions like cloth, plastic, or hypoallergenic metals. You can also create a barrier between your skin and the metal like wearing gloves or covering the metal with things like cloth or clear nail polish. There is no specific medication or treatment that can cure a metal allergy.