Inexpensive earrings may contain nickel

By Tom Nordlie • Published: August 20th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Cheap earrings may be easy on your pocketbook, but they could also be tough on your skin.

That’s because the baubles sometimes contain nickel, a metal that causes allergic reactions in about six percent of U-S adults.

One common reaction is contact dermatitis, skin irritation that can include itching, swelling and redness.

A study published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed nickel was present in thirty percent of inexpensive earrings purchased.

Researchers in San Francisco bought about two-hundred-seventy-five earrings priced at fifty dollars or less.

They bought the earrings from four types of retailers… artists making custom jewelry, tourist shops in Chinatown, chain stores targeting young women and chains targeting older women.

Each earring was swabbed with a chemical that produced red stains if nickel was present.

The results showed there was nickel in almost seventy percent of earrings from artists and more than forty percent from Chinatown.

In earrings from chain stores catering to young women, the figure was twenty-four percent, and in stores for older women it was less than two percent.

Why the variation? Researchers aren’t sure.

Price might seem like a factor, but actually it wasn’t.

Many of the earrings priced at ten dollars or less contained no nickel.

Unfortunately, few of the earrings were labeled as to their metal content.

So if you’re concerned about nickel in your jewelry, it pays to shop around.

Otherwise, you may find yourself itching to save money. Literally.