Watch My Nickel Allergy Happen

Q: BUT I’VE USED THIS FOREVER AND NEVER HAD A PROBLEM?

A: NOTHING IS FOREVER.

Before delivering my second baby, despite my never having had a drug allergy, the nurses did the standard test to check for penicillin sensitivity and…all good. Back home with my newborn, I developed an infection, for which I was given a standard penicillin-derived antibiotic I’d taken a few times in the past. Boom: head-to-toe urticaria (welts and hives) and burning pain. I was allergic!

This was just as surprising: as a child, I’d had a metal sensitivity (earrings) that went away quickly. Since then, I’d worn all types of jewelry, care free. Now, after months of using a new fitness tracker…nickel sensitivity!

Allergies are complicated: I could have developed a nickel allergy out of the blue; or always had a mild sensitivity so that occasional use was okay but not daily use for months; or, I could have had a subtle irritant reaction for years and then my cells finally decided…nope, we’re going to remember nickel, and you are now allergic. Allergies can come and go. Don’t obsess about the chances, but don’t be surprised if you suddenly find yourself allergic to something you’ve used your whole life.

Nickel, by the by, is consistently the top-ranked allergen in published allergen lists.

SneakersPolarWatch500cal LVBworkouts IG 8Feb2016 Frame 20160406
The Original
This is what I normally use for my daily workouts. I wanted to try a fancy new fitness tracker. I loved it until…

1NickelAllergyLVB IG 7Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 1: After 6 months of happy use, I noticed some redness. Just a little pink, nothing major.

3bNickelAllergyLVB IG 11Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 5: By the fifth day after noticing the initial pinkness, I noticed lots of redness and lots of flaking. Look how well defined the area of irritation was, matching the metal sensors.

4aNickelAllergyLVB IG 12Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 6, morning: The flaking went off the deep end and I decided it was time to stop the madness.

4bNickelAllergyLVB IG 12Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 6, evening: This was my first Red Better Flare-Up Balm application. After this, I started wearing the watch upside down (the nickel sensors touched the underside of my wrist) to stop contact with the irritated site.

 

5NickelAllergyLVB IG 13Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 7: With applications of Flare-Up Balm 2-3 times a day, the flaking disappeared but the redness was still there.

 

6aNickelAllergyLVB IG 15Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 9, morning: After applying Flare-Up Balm consistently twice a day, the redness calmed down. And by…

 

6bNickelAllergyLVB IG 15Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 9, evening: …just a ring of redness (the center had cleared) remained.

7NickelAllergyLVB IG 17Jul2015 Frame 20160405
Day 11: The redness was barely visible and, like the watch, was gone a day later. I was sad to see the watch go, not the rash.

 


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Laura is the CEO of VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of our founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister and husband (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about learning, literature, art, health, science, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness and goodness.

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