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Contact Dermatitis – When You Are Allergic to Your Wedding Ring

dermatitis on hand due to wedding ring

Contributed by Gwen Lewis

We’ve almost all had a point when we’re wearing our favorite ring and suddenly our finger won’t stop itching. You start scratching underneath the ring, and you realize the area is red and irritated. Or bumpy. Maybe you’ve even scratched it so hard that the skin is peeling.

Are you allergic to your ring? While there are allergies that we can have to metals—especially nickel—if the itching is new and you’ve worn that ring often (like a wedding set), then your skin might be reacting to something else. According to the Mayo Clinic, contact dermatitis is an itchy rash that has been caused by your skin coming into contact with something or having an allergic reaction to that substance.

contact dermatitis image of hand

Contact dermatitis is annoying. And when contact dermatitis is caused by a favorite piece of jewelry, the issue can become emotional…especially if that jewelry is your wedding or engagement ring.

If your ring is causing problems, and you suspect contact dermatitis, don’t freak out. Most likely, your skin is reacting to something on the ring…not the ring itself. Our jewelry often becomes dirty with debris, dirt and even soap or chemicals. Rings often trap these irritants in the grooves of the setting…and then our skin becomes affected.

contact form for contact dermatitis

However, the American Academy of Dermatology notes that contact dermatitis also can be an allergic reaction…and we can develop allergies to our jewelry even if we’ve worn those accessories often.

So, yes, you also could unfortunately be allergic to your ring (and only an allergist can tell you that for sure). Your ring also could be really dirty and your skin could be irritated from the grunginess. Give your ring or any jewelry that’s causing the irritation a careful clean. Clean diamond wedding rings or engagement rings with a gentle soap and a soft toothbrush. And be sure the drain is closed!

Lay your ring to dry on a soft washcloth somewhere safe (so it doesn’t get lost). You also need to treat your skin so the rash clears. Set an appointment with your doctor to see if he can prescribe an ointment to promote healing. The AAD recommends seeing an allergist if the rash doesn’t dissipate after a week. While your doctor may help heal a rash, only an allergist can discover the allergen that may be the culprit. He or she may advise on an over-the-counter cream, but it’s always best to check with a doctor before treating skin issues at home.

After your skin has cleared, it’s time to wear the ring again. If your skin doesn’t react, you’re probably in the clear (unless you’ve been told otherwise by your doc). However, if you’re itching again…it’s time to figure out what else could be causing the issue. Your ring may be made from a mixture of metals…and one of them could be the culprit.

If you’ve haven’t already seen an allergist, you should make an appointment with one if you suspect that your ring is, in fact, the problem. Unfortunately, not all metals are hypoallergenic, and less pure forms of gold or coloured gold hues (like white gold or rose gold) may be mixed with metals that your skin doesn’t like.

While contact dermatitis from rings is no fun…any time your skin is affected, you need to be diligent.

The video below is for educational purposes only. We do not advocate the use of any products recommended in the video, and we are firmly against products which are tested on animals, and those produced by companies who still carry out animal testing outside of the EU. Nonetheless, we feel this video’s is beneficial to and provides valuable information. 

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