Costume jewellery may cause nickel allergy

Cheap earrings, necklaces, piercings, studs and buttons, might appear very showy, striking and extravagant but they may also be of dubious origin. It is recommended not to underestimate the risks that the counterfeit industry may bring upon skin health. In fact, their use may cause disorders such as irritant dermatitis, nickel allergies and skin rashes that occur with itching, swelling, burning, and redness of the skin. 

Even a poor quality purse can equally possess a number of risks: the zippers and hinges may contain traces of nickel and cobalt, which are known to trigger sudden skin reactions in certain individuals, depending on their level of sensitivity.

“According to the European rules, earrings and necklaces should be free of nickel – says Professor Marcello Monti, Senior Consultant of Dermatology at Humanitas. However, you may find merchandise that has “nickel free” labelled on it but that also causes allergies.

The leather industry is not immune to this issue: “The same problem occurs with bags, belts, bracelets and shoes – explains Dr. Monti. In these cases, the specific allergen is chrome – continues the specialist – which is used in the tanning process of leather. If the product is not produced properly, it can trigger contact dermatitis.”

How can these ploys be avoided?

“It is important to pay attention to low prices and rely on major retailers you know to carry proper products. Furthermore, if you experience symptoms such as itching, burning, or redness of the skin, it is important to immediately get rid of the suspicious product. If it is your first time experiencing such as dermatological problem, you should undergo allergy tests to identify the allergen responsible for the outbreak.”

Why is it important to avoid buying cheap jewellery?

There is an absolute difference between quality and quantity when it comes to choosing high quality jewellery. It is important to remember that there is a difference between getting a good deal on jewellery and buying jewellery that is considered harmful to the human body. The restraints for cosmetics and perfumes are even higher, “Crudely preserved cosmetics and products with low quality ingredients – says the dermatologist – can cause dermatitis on the face, eyelids, and neck. Cosmetic dyes, lipsticks, foundations and eye shadows often contain colours that are prohibited and considered toxic and carcinogenic.

Dr. Monti also recalls a different issue that is often overlooked and involves pollutant contamination. “Perfumes, creams and lotions made from raw materials of poor quality may incorporate pollutants and heavy metals beyond the limits permitted by European standards. They may be tainted by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that develop during a certain period of time.”


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.