Spontaneous skin reaction?

I’ve just gotten e-mail from a friend in another state,
describing a sudden reaction to her jewelry, which is
really troubling her. Unfortunately, I have not seen
the jewelry in question recently, nor the condition of
her finger, as she is 1200 miles away.

Her text follows:

I’m actually very worried. I’ve got a patch of red scaly (and
somewhat itchy) skin on the back of my ring finger, where my
engagement and wedding rings rest. It appeared during that
intensely hot and humid spell we had (heat indexes above 110),
and I attributed it to moisture being caught under the rings and
irritating my skin. I stopped wearing them for about a week, and
the patch mostly cleared up, but now it’s back.

Right now I’m not wearing them 24/7 anymore, and hoping. One
thing that occurs to me is that there’s hard water buildup on the
inside of the engagement ring, and that it might be those salts
(or whatever they are) that are irritating my skin. I’ll try
taking it in to have it cleaned and see if that helps. The thing
is, though, I wore the engagement ring 24/7 for more than a year
before this happened. That doesn’t seem to make sense. What are my
options, if I am allergic? Is it possible to get the insides of
the ring coated with something hypoallergenic? It would kill me
to have to stop wearing them, or to have to get a new ring…

end quoted text.

The rings are white gold.

I'm hoping this situation sounds familiar to someone on 
the Orchid list, and that this someone (or someones) will
have a good fix for the problem.  So far, all I've 
recommended is that she keep the ring off completely until
the irritated skin heals completely, and that she get the 
ring cleaned thoroughly at her local jewelers', and that if
it recurs, that she consult with her jeweler on the 
possibility of rhodium plating the pieces.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks very much as always to the Orchid community.

Kat Tanaka

The family doctor, or a dermatologist? They might not know
anything about jewelry, but they know about metals and contact


Could your friend have developed a nickel allergy? I understand
that allergies can develop at anytime. Perhaps she might try
another piee of white gold jewelry to see if she reacts to it.

Kat Tanaka Sounds like a reaction to the nickel in the white gold
to me. I have alot of experience with allergies and they can, and
most often do, develop over a period of time. Is the alloy for
the white gold nickel??? Horrid stuff, very toxic.

Please E-mail me the Findings Because I am Experiencing the Same
Problem with My wedding ring which is Sterling Silver, and What I
Do as a remedy is Change the Ring from the Left and to the Right
hand and Vies versa regularly .

Please HELP !!!
Ahmed shareek

I has the same reactions to a wide and irregular shaped wedding
band. I found that I would get dish detergent under the ring once
and I would about lose the skin. Remove the ring, recondition the
finger, put the ring on, wash dishes, and the same condition
would appear. Now I don’t wear the ring 24/7 . It’s either that
or not wash dishes…which isn’t an option. Lisa

kat - since your friend’s rings are white gold it’s possible she
could have the interiors plated with rhodium. that’s the metal
they used to plate sterling in the mid century but stopped when
the price went up (it’s about 2 1/2 x gold price & 2 x platinum)
it was to prevent tarnish & allergic reaction to silver
(actually usually the copper in silver) more drastically, she
could have the interiors reamed out & thin band of friendly
metal fitted into each ring. ive

When it comes to skin irritations of course it could be many
things. I will throw out one idea which happened to one of my
customers. Her ring had some hollow space and it filled with
soap which irritated her finger. Also jewelers are sometimes
faced the terrible problem of telling a woman that her finger has
gotten larger and the ring is too tight. Most of the time we can
blame it on the weather, which works most of the time. Let’s
hope its soap.

Good luck

Bill Wismar

I do not know for certain but this sounds like the development
of an allergy to the metal-Nickel. White gold is most often an
alloy that contains nickel, and many people can develop such an
allergy. I suggest that she maintains dry fingers when ever the
rings are on, and she should try coating the inside of the rings
with a layer of nail-polish which will act as a barrier between
the rings and the skin. Clear polish of course!. If she trys
this, let me know if it helped. Dr. Dule

Often white gold is made with nickel - a banned substance in
europe for jewelry. Many folks develop a reaction to nickel, and
other than rhodium plating, I don’t know how to fix the problem.
The rings could be remade with paladium white gold which does not
contain nickel. This is not the first instance of allergy to
nickel - but your friend should be tested for the nickel allergy
before going to the trouble of fixing the rings. judy in
perfect weather in Denver judy@marstal.com

Hi Kat, I went through this when I lived in Tucson. My favorite
ring suddenly became an implement of torture. What happens is the
heat causes you to perspire and the moisture congregates under
jewelry where there are areas that it could be trapped. Of course
any soap, lotion, etc. that has also accumulated just aggravates
the problem. Add in the fact that heat causes your fingers to
swell (the rings would be a tighter fit). The combo of all
causes the rash on your finger. Tell her to take the rings off at
night when she sleeps and make sure they are clean. She should
invest in a small ultrasonic. I remove all my jewelry as I step
through the door of the house and always keep it in the same
small bowl until I leave the house again. Saves wear and tear
and you don’t get household grunge on your jewelry. Good habit to
get into.

I'm actually very worried. I've got a patch of red scaly (and
somewhat itchy) skin on the back of my ring finger, where my
engagement and wedding rings rest. It appeared during that
intensely hot and humid spell we had (heat indexes above 110),

I have that problem with a wide sterling ring I wear 24/7. I’ve
found that it’s usually a combination of moisture, heat, and
soap or hair conditioner that doesn’t get completely rinsed from
under the ring. I take the ring off, clean it, use
antibacterial soap on my finger and then let the skin breathe
for a day or so.

it recurs, that she consult with her jeweler on the
possibility of rhodium plating the pieces.

I’d consult a dermatologist first, it might be an allergy or it
might be some bacteria that found the perfect spot to live in
under the rings. In the first case she’d have to have the rings
coated, in the second she’d have to use some kind of antibiotic
ointment until the skin healed and clean her rings throughly
before wearing them again.

Lynn A. Davis
Tephra’s Treasures
Handcrafted Jewelry, Accessories
And Other Fine Treasures

I had written about a similar problem with a white gold wedding
band .Turns out it was a nickel allergy and the white gold had
nickel in the alloy. >D<

I’ve had reactions with 18 K gold, sterling, base metal, etc . .
. I found that hand creams - containing lanolin and glycerine,
were causing the problem. I switched to hand creams containing
nut oils… Haven’t had a problem since.

Hope this helps!

We used to install thin platinum liners to protect against
alllergies to gold alloys in rings. It sometimes involved sizing
the ring up first. This didn’t solve the problem with hollowed
rings trapping water or detergents. We told customers to remove
rings when bathing, washing dishes,swimming in chlorinated pools,
etc or wear gloves (except when bathing, of course).


I had the same problem with my wide wedding band. I just make
sure to take it off when cleaning or washing dishes and I take it
off at night along with the rest of my jewelry. This cleared the
problem right up!

Perhaps it would be wise to consider eczema. Something that she
is getting on her hands which she has not been sensitized to
before may be collecting under the ring. For instance, it would
be possible to cut up a bunch of tomatoes with the rings on, not
clean everything properly, and have the tomato juice in contact
with the area overnight. Just a thought. Rose
Alene McArthur obmcarthur@clearwater.com


The same thing happened to my husband this summer, and he’d been
wearing his 14k wedding ring for 10 years! All of a
sudden–itchy redness and bumps. He took it off and let it heal
for a couple weeks and the same thing happened when he put it
back on. Now it’s healing again. I haven’t cleaned the ring,
but will try that. I doubt if that will “cure” him, though.
I’m more inclined to paint the inside with nail polish.

I know the body is “different” every day. One day out of the
blue, my 14k ring turned my finger green, and it never happened
again. But this has happened to him the second time. (Maybe
it’s just the 10 years of marriage!!)

Anyway, I’m interested to hear any and all suggestions.

Judy Stroup

Judy, If it’s white gold there is a good possibility that your
husband has developed an allergy to nickel which is generally
one of the alloying metals. Some 14K yellow golds also contain
nickel and even small amounts is capable of causing an allergy.
Coating with nail polish may not be a permanent solution, but it
will at least point to a diagnosis. Let us know how this works

JZ Dule

I too wear white gold wedding rings and get the occasion rash. I’ve decided
that part of the problem is how I use detergent. If I’m scrubbing compound
off or using a brass brush, I hold the piece in my left hand, wet it,
squirt on the Dawn, and scrub away. I can get away with this a few times a
day but if I’m really working, I’ll get the rash. It also happens it on the
rare occasions that I do some real cooking with the subsequent cleaning in
the kitchen. Therefore, I think that a big part of the problem for me is
simple skin dryness not allergy or chemical sensitivity.

Marilyn Smith