Atopic eczema and ear piercing

Fashion statements changing over the years has lead to ear piercing being the popular choice it is today. Atopic eczema, a very common skin condition, is possibly caused by ear piercing but there are hardly any medical studies examining the link.

Piercing the ear involves passing a strip of metal through the ear creating a hole; this procedure leads the body to be exposed to heavy metals such as cobalt and nickel. All ear piercing must be done under sterile conditions and once a piercing has been finished, many precautions should be taken.

Eczema can be caused by allergens and exposure to certain materials can also trigger the condition. Whether nickel is capable of causing atopic eczema is a question scientists have studied. One study found that over 12% of girls who have pierced ears would get skin reactions. In this same group, around 1% without pierced ears, developed eczema.

In a Swedish study, it was found that men who have a piercing are much more sensitive to cobalt and nickel than their not pierced counterparts. In a Norwegian study the statistics are even more startling; of 89 schoolchildren with piercings, 79 developed allergies to metal jewellery – this is 88% of the children. Statistically these studies show that ear piercings that consist of cobalt or nickel are related to the occurrence of atopic eczema. Furthermore the studies show that these metals are allergens to much of the population

If you want to get protection from having an allergic reaction, your doctor will be able to conduct a test. This test will determine whether or not you will have a reaction to nickel. If you are not sensitive then you will most likely be safe getting a piercing. As the studies examined  here show, children are at much greater risk of an allergic reaction so be extra careful when your child is getting their ears pierced.

Interestingly, it is not just the metals which introduce the person having a piercing to potential allergens. As the procedure is done in hygienic conditions, it is likely the person piercing the ear will wear latex gloves. If you are allergic to latex, ask for gloves fashioned from a different material.

If you suffer from complications such as epilepsy or hypertension, among others, consult your doctor before getting a piercing and remember that having good skin is more important than being fashionable.

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