May 14 2020 – Mike Yarbrough
Are you allergic to your wedding ring? I don't mean allergic to marriage—that's a separate issue. Allergies affect a lot more ring wearers than you might think. Hypoallergenic wedding rings are one possible solution.
Wedding ring rash, known in the medical field as wedding ring dermatitis, can have a few different underlying causes, but one of the most common is an allergy to the material your wedding ring is made of.
Why Do I Have Ring Rash?
Ring rash usually appears in the form of red, itchy, scaly or otherwise irritated skin on one's ring finger, right where the wedding band sits. For some people, it can happen shortly after putting on a ring for the first time. It can also develop, seemingly out of nowhere, after wearing a ring for years. It's not what people mean when they refer to the "seven year itch," but it can still be troubling.
There are two common causes of ring rash. For many people, the irritation is caused by soap or some other material that gets trapped under the ring. You can check if that's the case by washing your ring and seeing if the irritation clears up. However, in more serious cases, wedding ring dermatitis is caused by an allergy to the metal in the ring itself.
Am I Allergic to Gold?
Metal allergies come in many forms, but being allergic to gold is actually very rare. If you've had an allergic reaction to a gold ring, it's much more likely that nickel is the culprit.
Nickel is one of the most common metals that gets mixed in with gold to make it hard enough to wear as a ring. It's also one of the metals that people are most likely to be allergic to. The American Contact Dermatitis Society even named nickel its official Allergen of the Year in 2008. Quite an honor!
Copper, cobalt and chromium are other metals that some people have a sensitivity to, though sensitivities to these metals are less common. It is estimated that about 10% to 15% of the population have some form of metal hypersensitivity. While it's much more common in women than men, it can affect anyone.
Metal hypersensitivity can also develop suddenly, which is why some people have an unexpected wedding ring rash appear, even after wearing the same ring for years. Luckily, there are ways to protect yourself.
What Are the Solutions to Wedding Ring Allergies?
The best solution to ring rash caused by metal hypersensitivity is to choose hypoallergenic wedding rings. A lot of options for alternative rings are available, including wood wedding rings as well as hypoallergenic metal rings. Platinum is one of the most preferred metals for those who have a sensitivity. Just be sure to double check with your jeweler that it isn't mixed with a metal like cobalt, which can cause an allergic reaction.
Gold can be an option for hypoallergenic wedding rings, as long as it doesn't contain nickel. Many metals are known as alloys, which are combinations of various metals to give them different properties such as strength and color. Yellow gold has much less nickel than white gold. White gold is an alloy of gold and white metals—like nickel, silver and palladium—to give it the white color. Rose gold is an alloy of gold, copper and silver. Sterling silver is also a hypoallergenic metal for most people.
If you already own a wedding ring that you have developed an allergy to, you can have its inner surface sealed with a clear protective coating to keep the metal from actually touching your skin. Some folks also do it themselves with clear nail polish, but a professional coating will last longer.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of little things in life that can be irritating. Choosing a hypoallergenic ring is a great way to make sure your wedding ring isn't one of them. To find which hypoallergenic ring option is best for you, take our quick ring style quiz!