One of the most sought after minerals for its luster and rarity is also sought after by many for its property as a hypoallergenic mineral.
Gold is considered to be one of the safest minerals to come in contact with the human skin, because of its lack of reactivity when adorned by people either on their necks, wrists or even in their mouths (some still wear gold teeth).
But a small number of people have been complaining about developing allergies to pure gold and though dermatologists have long been suspecting that it’s more the nickel that’s causing the allergic reaction some scientists nowadays are saying otherwise.
The allergy is real
For so many years medical professionals have been skeptic about claims of gold allergy since it’s often unlikely that people who wear jewellery adorned with gold has 100% pure gold in it.
Gold is a very expensive mineral and most jewellers add some other mineral to their items instead of using pure gold.
The most commonly used mineral in gold jewellery is nickel and nickel allergy is much more prevalent in a lot of people.
This is why most dermatologists and allergists say that when a patient claims she has an allergic reaction to her gold necklace or bracelet it’s because she really has a nickel allergy.
The symptoms that occur with nickel allergy are rashes, hives, severe itching, and changes in skin color often a reddish hue.
In some severe cases, the patient would even exhibit dry skin in some areas of her body that would resemble a burn and sometimes the lumps would form into blisters and excrete fluid.
These symptoms would often last for a few days to a month.
But scientists are no longer ruling out the possibility that some of these patients do have an allergic reaction to pure gold and though their number is still low medical professionals are now recognizing this valuable mineral to be an allergen.
The symptoms that accompany an allergic reaction to gold are the same as the ones that occur with nickel allergy with little variations.
People allergic to gold exhibit pompholyx, which is a kind of eczema that only occurs in the hands and feet.
They’re watery blisters that often occur at the sides of the fingers, the palms of the hands and even the soles of the feet.
They can be very itchy and often exhibit a burning sensation on the palms and the soles of the feet.
When the skin dries there can be peeling and cracks are left behind, which can be painful at times.
Other symptoms that accompany gold allergy are contact dermatitis, contact stomatitis and oral lichen planus.
Contact dermatitis exhibits a red rash, itching that can be severe, swelling, tenderness of the skin or even a burning sensation, dry skin that can crack, scaly skin and bumps or blisters that lead to crusting and can ooze pus.
Contact stomatitis is an allergic reaction that occurs in the mouth often at the sides of the tongue, inside of the cheeks, gums and hard palate.
The symptoms that occur with this reaction are: burning, swelling, skin redness, cracking, small blisters, white patches, and white lines, peeling skin, mouth ulcers, erosions and pain.
Oral lichen planus is an allergic reaction that also occurs in the mouth and this condition exhibits white lace-like patterns in the inside of the cheeks. Red lesions can also appear with a whitish border and they can cause erosions. These lesions can be painful and they often appear in the gums and lips.
The last two conditions mentioned above occur in the patient’s mouth because medical professionals discovered that people with gold teeth develop allergies inside their mouths.
Gold allergy often affects those who have been in contact with this mineral repeatedly and for long periods of time.
It is very rare that someone gets her gold allergy triggered as soon as she comes into contact with this mineral.
Also, majority of those with gold allergy are women.
Diagnosis and treatment
If you feel that you’re allergic to gold consult a physician right away so they can perform a patch test on your skin.
As soon as you are diagnosed with an allergy to gold then your physician will advise you to stay away from any jewellery with gold plating in it.
If you’re wearing dentures or gold-plated teeth then your physician might suggest that you replace them with palladium-silver alloy or opt to have porcelain caps in your teeth in order to prevent a reaction.
According to experts, gold allergy may last for years and since it’s a rare condition there have been no known cures yet for this allergy.
So most physicians will advise their patients to avoid gold at all costs in order to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring.
Fortunately, only a few people suffer from this condition although repeated exposure to this mineral could develop into an allergy.
So if you’re still not allergic to this mineral minimize your contact with it to avoid developing an allergy to gold.