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Piercing jewelry takes the blame for nickel allergies like cars might be blamed for traffic accidents.

There are studies (e.g. Finland that has an environmental problem: nickel is everywhere: the ground, the air, the water) that nickel allergies in the US might be being incorrectly attributed to jewelry metals and other metal products (e.g. nickel in jewelry for pierced ears). There is evidence that the diet and other factors may be major contributors and that "nickel" allergies come and go relative to the ingested foods we eat. Nickel in food accumulates in the body over time and can cause the allergy. "Healthy" type foods like oatmeal, whole grains, nuts, soy contain trace amounts that build up in the body over time.


"As people try to eat healthier, they’re actually eating more nickel,” says Dr. Matthew Zirwas, a dermatologist at Ohio State who has seen a gradual increase in nickel food allergies over the past five years. …For people who have puzzling rashes and have had reactions to metal items such as earrings, belt buckles or watches, Zirwas suggests they pay attention to their diets. In addition to avoiding foods that are high in nickel, Dr. Zirwas tells patients to take vitamin C with every meal because it will bind to the nickel in the food and prevent absorption….It can be really hard to figure out that the nickel in their diet is the source…Nickel is one of the most common metals in our environment. It naturally occurs as a mineral in soil and in drinking water. Nickel is commonly used as a protective coating for other metals and it is used in coins, glass, ceramics, magnets and batteries. Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center, Rash of Nickel Food Allergies linked to a Healthier Diet, March 1, 2012