Nickel Allergy & SNAS
Not Just Contact Dermatitis...
Raising awareness of Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome (SNAS)
Nickel allergy is the most prevalent source of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) around the world. It is estimated that up to 20% of people worldwide have nickel allergic contact dermatitis, but figures could actually be much higher than that. Nickel allergy is more prevalent in women, commonly attributed to women having more frequent exposure to nickel through jewellery, but more likely due to the fact that nickel is a metalloestogren - that is, it mimics estrogen - a female sex hormone.
Nickel is found in abundance on the earth. It is strong and it is cheap and is the fourth most used metal in industrialised countries. It is used to make stainless steel and has a wide range of applications. Europe has seen numbers of nickel sensitisation fall since it regulated its use, however not all countries have been so good at following the directive.
Nickel allergy is classified as a Type IV Hypersensitivity, meaning the allergic reaction is delayed (typically 48-72 hours). This is because it is a cell-mediated response, rather than an antibody response. The medical profession agrees that an allergic response to nickel occurs in nickel allergic patients when skin comes into direct contact with nickel, resulting in a rash (dermatitis). There is no conventional treatment for allergies and medical advice is to avoid contact with an allergen.
Sources of prolonged exposure include jewellery, watches, belts, buttons on clothes, surgical and dental implants
Short term exposure include keys, tools, coins, household utensils and handheld consoles
Nickel is also present in pollutants, cosmetics, personal hygiene and household cleaning products
But the nickel rash can occur even when there is no direct contact with nickel. This is because nickel allergy can become systemic, meaning it can affect the entire body. People with nickel allergy have found that their rash worsens or improves, depending on what type of foods they eat.
Nickel is a micronutrient - we need it in trace amounts to help produce hormones - but when we have too much, it is very harmful to health and too much and it becomes toxic for the human body.
Symptoms of 'systemic' sensitivity to nickel varies from person to person but might include; hives, itchy eyes, rash, rhinitis, migraines, low mood and/or gastrointestinal complaints.
Foods high in nickel vary from country to country, depending on soil, farming and processing conditions, but generally include:
all nuts and seeds,
all whole-wheat grains,
Is there a treatment for Nickel Allergy?
Conventional medicine has no cure for allergies but will give antihistamines to give immediate relief at the time of a reaction. In the case of nickel rash (dermatitis), steroid creams will often be prescribed, but these do little to help.
A desensitisation treatment developed in Europe showed SNAS patients were able to tolerate slightly higher levels of nickel rich foods after treatment. This method acted in the same way as homeopathic desensitisation which, rather than temporarily calming the immediate reaction, works to reduce the body's response altogether.
Can Homeopathy Help?
Homeopathic desensitisation can help to increase a person's tolerance to a particular substance. But desensitisation, combined with hormone rebalancing and healing of the gut, can significantly reduce a person' reaction to nickel whilst strengthening overall health and reducing other symptoms too.
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