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  • Writer's pictureRitika Mehdiratta

Allergy to Metal implant... Is it possible?

Many people are known to have skin sensitivities to diversified metals. One frequently diagnosed metal sensitivity is to nickel.

Some orthopedic implants contain small amounts of the metal, nickel; later on say, a few months or even years, there can be a perturb that this may be an issue for patients receiving implants who also experience hypersensitivity to this metal.

Skin Sensitivity to Nickel:

Common symptoms of nickel sulfate hexahydrate include-

  • erythema

  • vesicles

  • pruritus

  • dermatitis or eczema

  • affected areas are severely itchy

  • redness with blisters or pigments

How to test for nickel allergy?

  • Visit your dermatologist.

  • He/ She is mostly likely to prescribe a skin patch test.

The Skin Patch Test- consists of minuscule amounts of different allergens [including nickel] on the skin of your upper back and cover them with patches. The patches must stay on for 48 hours. If one’s allergic to nickel or any other allergen, the skin is likely to show a reaction after that amount of time.

Personal Anecdote-

On September 26, I developed rashes on my thigh that caused exorbitant itching, resulting into redness. Next day, the rashes progressed all over my body, with which increased the irritation. I used ‘lacto-calamine’ to abate the redness, but nothing helped me get rid of the itching. Soon, the rashes turned into blisters and redness turned into red pigmentation [as I itched the rashes]. After a week of observing the marked up rashes, I visited my dermatologist. He prescribed me a patch test and blood work for immunoglobin. After 48 hours, when the patches were removed, I was diagnosed with an allergy to- ‘nickel sulfate hexahydrate’ which was concluded with the fact that about 15 months ago, I had an implant surgery for my fractured femur. Though, my dermatologist prescribed me a few ointments and tablets, he also advised me to contact my orthopedic doctors and get an implant removal ASAP, as nickel on the surface of my titanium implant was getting mixed with my blood, which caused the rashes and irritation. As a result of which, I had an appointment the previous week with my orthopedic doctors to plan for the most feasible and closest date for the surgery.

In conclusion, if anyone is facing the same problem, please do not itch the rashes as they result to bleed and further turn into scars.

What can one do?

Visit your dermatologist, till then:

1. Use soothing lotions, such as ‘Aveeno’ or ‘Candid’ which may ease the itching.

2. Moisturize your skin regularly. [The skin has natural barriers that are disrupted when it reacts to nickel and other allergens.]

3. Apply wet compresses, which can help relieve itching.

Fortunately, for those patients who have metal sensitivity causing implant problems, in many cases it is seen that removal of the implant provides immediate relief of symptoms.

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