Sensitive skin can make wearing rings problematic. Certain metals and materials will irritate your skin, whether in a minor way, or in a completely unbearable way. This is undoubtedly horrible, but easily avoidable. Here at Newman Bands, we have a huge range of rings and wedding bands that will not irritate your sensitive skin.
In this article, we will take you through everything you need to know when looking for the perfect ring – one that is not only just what you are looking for, but that is completely hypoallergenic and certain not to be an irritant.
The key to finding a ring that will not cause any irritation or allergic reactions is knowing which metals are likely to cause a reaction, and which will not. So if you are ready, here goes:))
How do you know if you have Metal Sensitivity?
If you are highly allergic to metal, you will definitely know about it already. Some people will have a strong reaction to simply touching jewellery, coins, or even metal door handles. Other people may find that they have a metal sensitivity only when they have been wearing metal jewellery for some time.
A sensitivity to metal is pretty much the same as any other allergic reaction. This is in the sense that your body reacts to the metal like a foreign invader. Your body comes back at it with an immune response – for metal sensitivity, this is most often redness, itchiness, swelling, a rash, or even skin blistering or scaling.
Every person will experience metal sensitivity in a different way – but the response your body makes to specific metals will be the same each time. And people’s symptoms of the metal allergy can either be mild, or severe, or anywhere in between.
You will most likely already have some idea about whether you may be sensitive to metal but if you want certainty, skin patch testing is the way to go. This will tell you whether you are or not – and exactly which metals you are sensitive to.
If you suspect that you are allergic to nickel in particular, you can buy a nickel spot test online. This is especially useful as nickel is the most likely metal to cause an allergic reaction.
Metals Most Likely to Cause Irritation
Whilst you can become allergic to any metal, the most likely metal to cause irritation and allergic reactions is nickel. This is problematic for many people as nickel is the base metal for the vast majority of low-cost jewellery.
For most people, problems only begin with repeated, or prolonged exposure to nickel. This means that you could try on a piece of jewellery that contains nickel and not have any kind of reaction. Then a few months down the line, it could be that your allergic reactions start to kick in.
Essentially, people with sensitive skin, or who suspect that they may be allergic to nickel, should completely avoid jewellery that contains nickel. It is only a matter of time before the unpleasant allergic reactions begin.
Estimates suggest that 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to nickel. Other metals that can affect people are cobalt and chromium. These effect between 1 to 3% of people.
Another metal likely to cause irritation is lead. Not nearly as widely used as nickel, this is also one to avoid at all costs.
Interestingly, reactions to metals can be localised (in other words only effect the skin that has been exposed to the metal / jewellery), or can affect other parts of the body (not even directly touching the actual jewellery).
What is Ring Rash?
Ring rash most often occurs with a ring, such as a wedding ring, that is worn all the time. A rash appears on the skin directly underneath the ring. Surprisingly, this may not appear when you begin to wear the ring but can occur as long as several years after you have been wearing the ring. A ring rash can come and go, and likewise be severe, or relatively mild.
A ring rash includes any kinds of red or itchy patches, scaly patches, swelling or burning, or dry or cracked skin. It differs to other kinds of skin problems, because it is specifically effects the area of skin where you wear your ring.
Ring rash can be caused be an allergic reaction to the metal in the ring (such as nickel).
Slightly different and easier to deal with, ring rash can be caused by a build up of soap, moisture, or debris underneath the skin. After you have worn a ring for a long time, you can imagine that there will be some build up of soaps, lotions, and general debris under the ring, whether on your finger, or on the surface of the ring. This can result in a build-up of bacteria – which can cause irritation, and ultimately a ring rash.
How to Prevent Ring Rash
How to prevent ring rash depends on the cause of your particular irritation. You can either try these methods one at a time to see what works for you, or go for all three at once in the hope that at least one will work!
Generally, there is no need to seek the advice of a doctor when it comes to ring rash. This of course depends on each individual and if you are concerned (especially if you have been unable to clear the ring rash, or it has been going on for a period of time), you should consult with your doctor.
- If the cause of your ring rash is an allergic reaction to the metal used to make the ring, you can paint the inside of the ring with clear nail polish. This essentially prevents your skin from coming into direct contact with the metal of the ring.
- Either thoroughly wash the ring yourself or have it cleaned at your local jewellery shop. Cleaning the ring will help remove any build-up of dead skin cells, soap, and general dirt that may be the cause of your ring rash and general irritation.
- Look after your skin, especially if you are prone to eczema or dry or chapped skin. Make sure that you use the moisturiser that suits you underneath your ring (taking off your ring to do so). Remove the ring and then wash, dry and apply moisturising cream to the skin underneath the ring. Make sure that no soap or water is trapped under the ring.
- If you are prone to skin irritants, it is always wise to use soaps that are gentle to your skin. Even if you are not allergic to the soap, it can make skin irritations worse.
Hypoallergenic Ring Metals
A hypoallergic ring is one that has a reduced or low chance of causing irritation or allergic reactions to people with sensitive skin.
If you are prone to sensitive skin (even if you haven’t officially had a metal allergy test), it is important to choose a hypoallergenic metal for your ring. Whilst you already know to avoid nickel and lead, it is valuable to know which metals are ultra-safe and have a particularly low chance of causing you any discomfort or pain.
Metals considered to be hypoallergic include palladium, platinum, high karat white gold, sterling silver, stainless steel, titanium, tungsten carbide, cobalt, niobium, and 18 karat yellow gold.
- Palladium – Considered to be hypoallergic as long as the ring you purchase is either Pure Palladium or Palladium950. Beware of Palladium500 as this is a combination of palladium and alloys in a 50/50 split. The alloys can contain nickel, lead, or cobalt metal.
- Platinum – Highly hypoallergenic, platinum is not known to cause any allergic reactions.
Platinum is high cost and there is a risk that they can get scratched and worn with time.
- High Karat White Gold – Gold metal itself is hypoallergenic but it is worth bearing in mind that a lower karat white gold could be alloyed with copper, nickel, or zinc (known to be common causes of skin irritations). Therefore, if choosing White Gold, be sure to find out what the white gold has been alloyed with. The higher the karat of white gold the better, as this reflects how much white gold is in the ring, in comparison to what it has been alloyed with.
- Sterling Silver – Although an excellent hypoallergenic metal, sterling silver tends to tarnish, and wear off quickly with general wear.
- Stainless Steel – Another hypoallergenic metal that as well as in jewellery, is also used for surgical tools, and musical instruments.
Stainless steel is often combined with nickel but in a very small quantity (usually 8 to 10% nickel). This means it is suitable for people with mild allergies but definitely not for people who are highly sensitive.
- Titanium – A first class choice for people with skin sensitivities, titanium is a hypoallergenic metal. Suitable for people with skin and metal allergies, another benefit is that titanium is not inclined to tarnish or wear away. It is incredibly hard wearing and robust – and has excellent resistance to scratching.
- Another stand out choice for people with skin sensitivities is tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide rings are hypoallergenic, long lasting, durable, scratch resistant, and will not tarnish, or fade.
- Cobalt – Originally used in the aerospace and medical sectors, cobalt is hypoallergenic and a good choice in rings for people with skin sensitivities and allergies.
- Niobium – Hypoallergenic, niobium is used in the medical industry for things like implants and prosthetics. More commonly used for body piercing jewellery, niobium is also used to make rings for both men and women. This would be highly suitable for people with skin sensitivity.
Men's Tungsten Carbide Rings
Tungsten is one of our favourite metals for men’s rings. Not only is a tungsten carbide ring hypoallergenic and suitable for people with skin sensitivities – tungsten also has a lot to offer.
Over recent years, tungsten rings have seen a remarkable surge in popularity for all types of rings, and particularly for men – wedding bands, engagement rings, promise, eternity, fashion, and statement rings. Let’s see what tungsten can offer you.
- Tungsten carbide is supremely strong and is in fact the strongest metal on earth in terms of tensile strength. For men who work with their hands, or lead very busy and active lives, tungsten is the ultimate choice.
- The superior strength of tungsten means that tungsten rings have excellent scratch resistance. Indeed, a metal can only be scratched by another material that is harder than itself. Because the only other material stronger than tungsten is diamond, a tungsten ring can essentially only be scratched by a diamond.
- A tungsten ring will retain its shape, not bending or becoming misshapen. Perfect – you can leave your ring on whatever you are doing and know that it will be fine.
- Excellent value for money. Simply because it is not valued as highly as other precious metals such as gold or platinum, tungsten is affordable. The price does not mean that tungsten is inferior – in fact tungsten is stronger and more durable.
- Tungsten rings come in a wide range of styles and colours. There is a tungsten ring out there to suit every man’s taste.
Men's Titanium Rings
Not just hypoallergenic, titanium is incredibly lightweight yet as tough as nails. With a titanium ring, you will have a ring that will last a lifetime, and it’s so lightweight you will forget you are even wearing a ring.
A titanium ring is match made in heaven for a man that works with his hands.
- Titanium is insanely strong and durable. Although lighter in weight than most other metals, titanium is no less strong. A titanium ring is one that will last a lifetime.
- Titanium is non-corrosive. It will not rust, or corrode, even when subjected to chlorine, or salt water. No leaving your titanium ring poolside while you swim – keep that ring on while you ride the waves….
- Like tungsten, titanium rings are very affordable and offer phenomenal value for money. Titanium gives so much but asks for so little!
- There are so many styles of men’s titanium rings to choose from, from contemporary to modern, and in black, silver, gold, or rose gold. You will be thoroughly spoilt for choice!
If you are prone to skin irritation, or allergies, it is important that you choose a metal that is hypoallergenic. This essentially means that there is a very low chance that the metal will cause you any reaction.
Generally speaking, it is important to avoid rings that have been made with nickel. This is because nickel will often cause irritation, particular to people who have sensitive skin. Nickel is frequently used in lower priced jewellery (such as costume jewellery).
Tungsten and Titanium are both metals that are hypoallergenic and suitable for people with metal sensitivities and / or metal allergies. Also, both are extremely strong, and durable, and have excellent resistance to scratching.
Any other questions, please just get in touch 😊