Ear piercing involves putting a hole in your ear and then putting a piece of metal through it. This leads to contact with heavy metals like nickel and cobalt. It is strictly advisable to do the piercing under perfectly hygienic conditions. Even after the piercing is finished, there are some precautions that you should follow.
Atopic eczema is triggered by certain allergens in affected people. An exposure to a certain material could trigger eczema, could a metal such as nickel trigger eczema?
Scientists have researched whether nickel can cause a trigger for atopic eczema. In an experiment on 960 young girls it is found that around 13% of those who got their ears pierced, went on to develop allergic skin reactions. Of the same sample, only 1% of those who did not get their ears pierced had eczema. Similarly, in an study on 520 young Swedish men doing compulsory military service, it is found that hypersensitivity to nickel and cobalt is higher (in 8% men) among those who got piercing. In contrast only 2.7% of those who did not get their ear pierced developed eczema. In another study on 424 Norwegian schoolchildren aged between 7-12 years, 89 children had their ears pierced and 79 developed skin allergies to metallic jewellery, which is a whopping 88% of those who had their ears pierced! These studies statistically relate ear piercing consisting of nickel and cobalt to atopic eczema, and establish the metals as allergens to a significant percentage of the population.
It is possible to protect yourself from allergic reactions, first you should start by visiting your doctor for an allergen test. If you discover that you are not allergic to nickel then it should be ok to go ahead and have your ears pierced.
Another less obvious reason for skin allergies after getting ear pierced might not actually be the metal, it could be the latex gloves that are worn by the person that pierces your ear. If you believe you are allergic to latex or rubber, then you should request that the person uses a pair of gloves made out of a different material. Since children have showed very high susceptibility towards possible nickel sensitization (88% as compared to 13% among adult men) it can be seen that children are much more sensitive, and so extreme care should be taken when considering piercing your childs ears. For people suffering from diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, heart disease or hemophilia, it is important to seek your doctors approval before even considering piercing your ears.
Good skin health is far more important than just making a fashion statement. After all a face full of rash doesnt make a good fashion statement anyway! With a little precaution and restraint it is possible to prevent developing atopic eczema.