Nickel is a metal that may be released from shiny metal objects such as jewellery, buttons, zippers, buckles, glasses, coins, keys, cell phones and tools.
Nickel can penetrate the skin and affect the immune system, causing allergy.
The allergy occurs through long-term close contact with a shiny metal object that releases nickel in certain amounts. Most shiny metal objects are usually not used long-term, leading to only brief use. Therefore, they present no risk of provoking allergy.
Jewellery, eyewear and buckles were previously the leading cause of nickel allergy, but today an EU law puts a limit on how much nickel may be released. However, jewellery and such purchased outside the EU may contain more nickel. Moreover, the law does not provide full protection to all and is not always respected.
Nickel may also be released from:
Cell phones where metal parts are in contact with skin. In 2008 The National Allergy Research Centre surveyed the nickel release from 41 cell phones from two different international companies, which jointly accounted for approx. half the market in Denmark. 19,5 percent of the phones released nickel from one or more places that could be in contact with the skin, typically logos, buttons and casing. 7,3 percent released nickel from several areas of the phone.
Tools may have parts containing nickel that may come into contact with the skin (Liden et al, 1998).
Stainless steel may contain nickel, but release quantities are normally so small that it rarely causes eczema in allergic persons through general use. However, it can be a problem in specific professions.
Nickel in the diet may cause eczema on the hands of some nickel-sensitive people. Consult a doctor before embarking on any type of diet therapy.
Toys and musical instruments are also in the searchlight as possible triggers of nickel allergy, but there is a lack of studies in this area.
Nickel is used additionally in the industry.