I used to suffer from serious ear rashes back in the days when I wore fake pearl studs that I bought from a weave shop near my house. My solution was to douse my earlobes in rubbing alcohol . . . which made no sense, really hurt, and didn't work. As I've mentioned in my 1 Necklace 4 Ways video, I'm physically incapable of not wearing jewelry, so I kept wearing those weave shop pearls until I realized that the raw skin was spreading beyond my earlobe. I was concerned that my ears might fall off, so I did a little research (disclaimer : I was 14) and switched to sterling silver earrings. After further research, my ears continued to get worse and even rejected my 14k gold filled ear wires, which didn't make sense because 14k gold doesn't contain nickel in the parts that your skin is exposed to. I feared I would never be able to wear jewelry again, I finally did some real research.
Like many of you, I have a pretty severe nickel allergy. Nickel is found in cheap jewelry, costume jewelry, and despite common belief, it's actually in *most* sterling silver. I found that nickel allergies can worsen if not taken care of, and seem to act up more during the warmer seasons and with jewelry that hasn't been cleaned properly. Since realizing my issue, I did everything I could to prevent nickel from touching my ears.
1. Coat all of your earwires with three coats of clear nail polish. It doesn't matter if the metal that is irritating you "technically" shouldn't contain nickel - if it bothers you, put a barrier between that metal and your skin.
2. Dab cortisone cream on your irritated lobes (that sentence makes me so uncomfortable I'm sorry that I'm putting it on the internet, but it's for the best) or wherever your skin is acting up because of jewelry contact. It'll calm it down.
3. If your ears are really really flipping out, and you have a favorite non-DLJ pair that you wear all time time and nothing seems to work, consider switching out those earwires for higher quality solid gold, or white gold. If that's out of your budget right now, surgical steel or the even more hypoallergenic metal "Niobium" earwires are available online. It's pretty easy to do yourself with some pliers, or take them to your local jeweler.
Now that I only wear Delia Langan Jewelry my skin doesn't act up anymore. I owe this to the fact that my gold rings are made from 14k gold filled, which does not expose any nickel to the skin, and my silver rings are made from Argentium, which does not contain nickel. Though our ear wires are sterling silver, since I mostly wear gold filled and never wear base metal jewelry, my skin doesn't seem to react as quickly to sterling silver as it used to. But unless 100% of your jewelry is DLJ, these tips can be pretty helpful in salvaging your favorite costume jewelry pieces.
Want to learn more about what different types of jewelry are made of? Check out our blog post here