Nickel allergy and mascara: how do you recognize it and what can you do about it?

Nickel allergy is a common allergic reaction that can occur when using cosmetic products, including mascara. In this blog we discuss how to recognize if you are allergic to nickel, how to test for a nickel allergy and what steps you can take to protect yourself and relieve the symptoms.

What is a Nickel Allergy?

A nickel allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction of the immune system to nickel, a common metal often used in various products, including cosmetics such as mascara. When someone is allergic to nickel and comes into contact with products containing nickel, this can lead to skin irritation and various symptoms.

Nickel is the most common contact allergy allergen in most industrialized countries worldwide. In Europe, the prevalence of nickel allergy has decreased in some countries due to the implementation of the EU Nickel Directive. In adults, the prevalence of nickel allergy in the general population ranges from about 8% to 19%, while the rate in children and adolescents is about 8% to 10%.

Women have a higher risk of nickel allergy than men, with a ratio of 4-10 times more cases, and girls have a higher risk than boys. Among dermatitis patients, the prevalence is higher, with rates ranging from 12% to 25% in adults and 5% to 30% in children. Outside Europe, less research has been done on nickel allergy, but persistently high prevalences have been observed in Asia and North America.

How do you recognize an allergy to nickel?

Recognizing an allergy to nickel can sometimes be tricky, as the symptoms can be similar to other skin conditions. Some common signs of a nickel allergy include itching, redness, swelling, blistering, and a burning sensation around the eyes after applying mascara.

The area around the eyes is particularly sensitive and can react quickly to irritants such as nickel. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on an individual’s degree of sensitivity and the amount of nickel they are exposed to.

How do you test for a nickel allergy?

If you suspect you have an allergy to nickel, it is recommended that you have a patch test, or what is called a Repeated Open Application Test (ROAT). A dermatologist can perform this test to check for a reaction of your skin to nickel.

In a patch test, small amounts of nickel-containing substances are applied to your skin. Usually, these substances are placed on a plaster or special patch, which is attached to your back or arm. The patch stays on your skin for a period of time, usually 48 hours.

During this time, the skin may react to the nickel and symptoms such as redness, itching, swelling, or a rash may occur if an allergy is present. After the specified period, the dermatologist will remove the patch and assess your skin for any reactions.

The patch test is an effective method of diagnosing a nickel allergy and can help identify specific substances you are allergic to. Based on the results, the dermatologist may advise you to avoid certain products or materials that contain nickel.

It is important to know that you need to do some preparation before the patch test. It is recommended not to use corticosteroid creams or other medications that may affect your skin reaction for at least 1 to 2 weeks. In addition, it is important to keep your skin clean and free of lotions or creams on the day of the test so that the results are as accurate as possible.

ROAT: it is used to investigate whether you have an allergy to a certain (skin care) product. The advantage of the ROAT is that you can easily perform it at home, without having to visit a dermatologist. More about ROAT home testing

What can you do about a nickel allergy?

Once you have determined that you have a nickel allergy, there are several steps you can take to prevent and relieve symptoms:

  • Avoid mascara and other cosmetic products that contain nickel. Check the ingredient list and choose nickel-free products.
  • Wear hypoallergenic mascara and apply gently to minimize irritation.
  • Thoroughly clean your eyes after wearing mascara to remove any residue.
  • Consult a dermatologist for recommendations on specific treatments, such as medicated creams or antihistamines, to reduce symptoms.

Where else is nickel found?

Nickel is a common metal that can be found in various products, both in food and cosmetics. Here are some examples of products that may contain nickel:

  1. Nutrition:
  • Chocolate: Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, may naturally contain small amounts of nickel.
  • Nuts: Some nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts and cashews, may contain trace amounts of nickel.
  • Grains: Whole grains, especially oats and wheat, can contain nickel.
  • Canned food
Nickel Allergy Nuts And Chocolate
  1. Cosmetics:
  • Jewelry: Nickel is often used in inexpensive jewelry and metal accessories, such as earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
  • Makeup: Some cosmetic products, such as eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick, may contain nickel as part of the dyes or metallic packaging.
  • Hair dye: Nickel may also be present in some hair color products, especially in dark shades

3. Other:

  • Euro coins (1 and 2 euro)
  • Metal tools
  • Phones
  • Buttons and hooks on clothing
  • Medical: ECG stickers, fallopian tube implants, dental materials, bracket wires
  • Wind instruments
  • Glasses frames
  • Thimble, knitting and crochet hooks

How can Iconic Elements help you?

Iconic Elements offers skin care products that are suitable for people with a nickel allergy, such as our Sensitive Cream and Calming Cream.

For people with a nickel allergy, skin care can be a challenge. De meeste producten op de markt bevatten ingrediënten die reacties kunnen veroorzaken.

At Iconic Elements we understand these concerns and have developed specially formulated products to meet the needs of those with nickel allergies.

Our Sensitive Cream is formulated with ultra-gentle ingredients, including Avena Sativa (oat extract), that help soothe and hydrate the skin without aggravating sensitivity.

The Calming Cream, with ingredients such as marshmallow root and Avena Sativa, provides a natural and soothing solution for irritated skin.

So, if you suffer from a nickel allergy and are looking for skin care products that are gentle on your skin, discover the Iconic Elements Sensitive and Calming Creams. We understand your skin’s unique needs and are ready to help you maintain healthy and balanced skin.

In other words

Recognizing a nickel allergy and taking the proper steps to manage it is essential for people who are sensitive to nickel and use mascara. By paying attention to the symptoms, doing a patch test and avoiding products containing nickel, you can ensure that your skin stays healthy and irritations are minimized. Always consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and professional advice.

While you are here

Eczema around the eyes

Eczema around the eyes can manifest itself in symptoms such as redness, itching and swelling. It is a common problem that can have various causes. While perfume is often cited as the usual culprit, there are multiple allergens that can trigger eczema around the eyes.

Researchers analyzed data from 50,795 patients, covering a period from 1994 to 2016. Of these patients, 3,955 (7.8%) had symptoms of eczema on the eyelids. The research shows that common causes of eczema around the eyes are irritant eczema, contact allergic eczema and atopic eczema. Several allergic substances, known as allergens, have also been identified that have often been associated with eyelid eczema. These include nickel sulfate (18.6%), perfume mix I (16.5%), methylisothiazolinone (16.5%), gold sodium thiosulfate (14.7%) and balsam of Peru (11.9%).

Other allergic substances to which patients with eczema of the eyelids often reacted were dimethylaminopropylamine, oleamidopropyldimethylamine, neomycin, carmine, shellac and thimerosal.

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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