Wedding Ring Allergies: Jewelry-Triggered Contact Dermatitis

By on March 1, 2016

By Naomi Shaw

Is your wedding ring irritating your skin? Are you experiencing a rash, itching, or tenderness under your ring? According to the Mayo Clinic, this usually occurs in people between the ages of 50 and 65 – which is perplexing, since many people have been wearing their rings for years without a problem when they develop symptoms!

What’s happening? You probably have contact dermatitis, which is a lot less scary than it sounds, and might not even require a trip to the doctor! Read on to learn more about what it is and how to treat it.

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What is contact dermatitis?

This condition comes about when your skin comes into contact with any material that irritates it to the point of a rash (for example, a rash caused by poison ivy.) Skin allergies vary from person to person, so you may experience irritation from your wedding ring even though most people do not.

What is causing my condition?

Brilliance explains that nickel is the most common metal that causes contact dermatitis. It can be present in a white gold ring, mixed with 10-karat gold, or even mixed with platinum! Jewelry-triggered contact dermatitis often waits years to present itself, because the nickel salts were not originally present on the surface of the ring. But after time and wear, they eventually came into contact with the skin, setting off the reaction

You can learn if nickel is causing your condition by taping a nickel coin to the inside of your arm. If your arm develops a rash within 48 hours, you probably have contact dermatitis from your ring.

Other causes can be everyday irritants from contact with chemicals, etc. that have gathered between the ring’s metal and the skin. Very rarely, contact dermatitis can be caused by a platinum allergy.

What should I do if I have contact dermatitis from my wedding ring?

The first thing you have to do, unfortunately, is take off your beautiful ring, because your rash won’t clear up unless the allergen is removed.

Are you experiencing uncomfortable itching? Hydrocortisone cream is available in the drug aisle of any grocery store. It contains a low-dose topical steroid designed to decrease inflammation on the skin. Benadryl can also reduce allergy symptoms, though most people experience sleepiness after taking it.

If the rash persists after a few weeks, gets worse, spreads, develops blisters, or is extremely painful, see your doctor. He or she can prescribe a strong topical steroid cream and possibly even oral steroids to reduce the inflammation and redness.

How can I prevent jewelry-triggered contact dermatitis?

If it is determined that the metal in the ring itself is causing the problem, you have several options.

  • For a temporary fix, try putting a small piece of tape on your finger to provide a barrier.
  • Another temporary option is to put a light coat of clear nail polish on the inside of the ring.
  • A better option is Nickel Guard, which adheres more strongly to the ring and lasts longer than nail polish.
  • For a longer lasting solution, your jeweler can coat the ring with rhodium, which will have to be reapplied occasionally.
  • The best thing you can do is replace the band, though of course this isn’t ideal because it represents years of relationship with your beloved.

Here are some are other steps you can take to avoid potential irritants which can aggravate the problem:

  • Choose mild hand soap.
  • Remove your ring when washing your hands, and dry them completely before replacing it.

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  • If your skin is chafed and dry, use a hypoallergenic, non-greasy moisturizer.
  • Clean your ring using a jewelry cleaning solution and a gentle brush, or take it to the jeweler’s if you are worried about damaging the ring.

Jewelry-triggered contact dermatitis can be emotionally devastating, as most people are attached to their rings because of what they represent. But with some care, you will be back to wearing your well-loved ring very soon!


Naomi Shaw lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids. She is a free-lance journalist and stay at home mom that enjoys writing on fashion, beauty, jewelry, and interior design. 

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Wedding Ring Allergies: Jewelry-Triggered Contact Dermatitis