Metals and skin reactions

Not all skin reactions are considered allergic reactions. Most skin discolorations, caused by contact of metal with perspiration and skin, are not seen as allergies, but as a mild reaction of the immune system. When having an allergy one gets itching, redness, swelling, etc..

Nickel & surgical steel - hardener & alloy:

Nickel is an affordable metal that is often used to harden soft metals and to give a silvery luster to the finishings. It is usually found in inexpensive components and jewelry. If you have a sensitive skin, stay away from it. You will carry a nickel allergy with you your whole life, so ask for nickel-free quality products.

Despite the fact that surgical stainless steel or type 316 steel contains about 10 to 14 % nickel, in theory, it causes no allergy to most people. Theoretically, the chemical composition should ensure that no nickel is released and as a consequence this might be a good option for sensitive skins.


Pure copper rarely causes allergies, but because it is a soft metal, it is usually hardened and mixed with other metals. An allergy when wearing copper is often caused by a nickel element. Consequently, it is important to purchase nickel-free copper.

Copper does not react to water, but it does to oxygen, thus creating a green patina or verdigris that may stain the skin. An anti-tarnishing layer is certainly an advantage not to be despised.

Copper alloys - brass, bronze and pewter:

Copper is not only a component of brass and bronze, but can also be found in silver and gold alloys.

Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc, bronze is made of a lot of copper and a little tin, while tin alloy is essentially made of a lot of tin and a little copper (and in a minor extent, a number of other, non-allergic, metals).

In principle, none of these alloys contain nickel and as a consequence are allergy-free. Ask for good quality and prevent allergies.

Beware: German silver, alpaca or nickel silver is a copper alloy containing both zinc and nickel and is therefore not recommended.

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