On Gold
On Nickel
Other Metals

The following is a question I put to the readers of rec.arts.bodyart.
The first response (I) is from an author who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, but included some informative articles on Gold and Nickel.
The next (II) is an interesting angle provided by Jim Ward of Gauntlet fame.
The final one (III) is my favourite.
If you have some input, please e-mail us.

Ambient: In the past few years I've noticed that a (very) few clients seem to have developed a sensitivity to steel jewelry. New piercings exhibit typical allergic reactions, and old ones of the same metal (same supplier and all!) start to act up. I'm hypothesising that after awhile, especially with clients with many (read 5 or more) piercings some are developing an allergy to steel.
What fascinates me is that this is something that just crops up after years of trouble-free enjoyment of piercings. I can't blame it on the jewelry, since in four of the cases the piercees were fans of a particular source of jewelry and insisted that they be pierced with it. HTC, Wildcat, Body Circle and even mighty Gauntlet jewelry seemed to tip the balance. No change was made in aftercare (these people all found what worked for them and kept with it). No change was made in piercng procedure. I think I pretty much eliminated most of the incrediibly pertinent variables here...

In my opinion, the critical factor is how long a piece of jewellery that tends to "leak" nickel is left in direct contact with the body's moist innards and particularly with the immune defense system.

The main question is, do you think that there was a latent sensitivity that needed so much to trigger it, or that its possible to develop a tolerance problem?

Both. Some definitely do develop problems easier than others so there's some individual (genetic?) variable involved but the amount of exposure is definitely critical. Personally, I believe that it would be a good idea to avoid having too many fresh (un-healed) piercings in your body at the same time since they could add up to expose you to a total of "too much" (whatever that happens to be to you).
Another variable is that it appears possible to "immunize" yourself to allergens through oral intake. It has been statistically proven (in a study so recent I haven't yet had time to incorporate it in my article) that kids who have FIRST worn metallic dental braces and THEN started getting multiple ear piercings are significantly less likely to acquire metal allergies than those who first get pierced and later have braces. The theory (still largely untested) is that since the digestive tract is our largest "exposure surface" to foreign substances, it has an overruling role in the immune defense system and anything we've been exposed to first through food is less likely to trigger "bad" reactions in our skin later. This would be an argument for piercing fans to start out with their tongues...

Maybe we've been looking at this from the wrong perspective. For the last 5 years I have been working with a brilliant man who I call, for want of a more accurate term, my nutritionist. His name is Scott. Last night I brought this subject up with him and found his theory and experience as to why this happens sufficiently interesting to pass on. Scott's theory is that this has a lot to do with diet and how it effects the pH (acid/alkaline) balance within the body. Many of the foods in the common diet produce an acid reaction within the body which can gradually become more and more acute. The metal sensitivity reaction described can be one of the manifestations.
Anyone who is interested can test themselves. After fasting for a minimum of 14 hours-- you can still drink water-- check your urine with some sensitive test paper. The ideal pH should be 6.8. Readings in the low 6s and the 5s indicate the body is really out of balance.
To bring the pH back up into normal range requires changing to a vegan diet and avoiding those things that are especially acid producing: meat, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, aspirin, to name just a few. As to whether a metal sensitivity will go away, I don't know, and I forgot to ask. I will be trying to find out more, and have asked Scott to write this and other healing/health related subjects for PFIQ. We'll keep you all posted.
Jim Ward

The main question is, do you think that there was a latent sensitivity that needed so much to trigger it, or that its possible to develop a tolerance problem?

Allergies in general are inconsistant in their affects on even the sameperson. My wife, after years of making me with homemade pumpkin pies, has suddenly become highly sensitive. If she even touches the inside of a pumpkin she breaks out in little red itchy circles. The doctor said, "it just happens sometimes."

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