Sterling Silver Allergy – What You Need To Know

Anyone who suffers from skin allergies forms using any metal can agree with me that we want it to stop quickly.

Unfortunately, those with susceptible skin will react to most metals, including sterling silver.

Since it’s a very uncomfortable feeling, we want to help you understand what causes the allergies and the remedies. We also help to make an informed choice when you’re out there buying the jewels.

Don’t be surprised; many people suffer from metal allergies. But you can learn to manage it then go about your days.

While if you used pure silver, you would never experience allergies, you can’t say the same of sterling silver. Notice that you can’t make jewels using pure silver either.

More Reading: Sterling Silver Vs Silver


How does it react?

They react the same way as any other allergies. There’s always a trigger, and in this case, it’s the sterling silver.

So when you come to contact with the sterling silver jewel, then your skin cells will attract the molecules in the metal.

This compound formed then will travel to the lymph nodes.

Sterling Silver Allergy

Unfortunately, the body will react as though the molecules are, therefore, invaders. As you would expect, then the body develops the immune response to get rid of the invader.

This will then cause itching, redness, rash, swelling, and sometimes there will be skin blistering.

Notice though that the symptoms will be anything from mild to very severe options. Now depending on how it is, you can decide to either go to the hospital or not.

Don’t confuse the discoloration for allergies.

Remember, sterling silver will often tarnish and even discolor. It can change its color to blue-green or black. Such discoloration will occur only in the alloys of silver because the silver alloy has a mix of different metals. This is also what we call the tarnish.

Notice that this reaction will sometimes cause a reaction on the skin. However, sometimes it just looks like you have applied a black or green color on your skin without effects on other people. The good thing is that you can wipe it out if you like.

What causes the allergic reaction if you have sterling silver?

It’s the nickel

It’s not every day that you will experience a reaction when you use sterling silver. Nonetheless, if your sterling silver has nickel, then you are sure if you have a nickel allergy, you will experience allergic reactions.

nickel metal

Although sometimes factories use just a bit of nickel to harden it or color it, this will affect the skin-sensitive person the same way.

Often when the tarnish occurs, then the silver will start to cause a skin reaction. When nickel mixes with your skin salts, the symptoms will start showing.

If you want to be sure you are reacting to this, then you should try the patch test or use the modified test. Just tap a nickel coin on the inner part of your arm, and within 48 hours, you will know if you are sensitive to nickel or not.

More reading: Nickel Free Jewelry

Its the copper

In rare cases, you may have other people react to copper. Remember, the 7.5% additional metal is mostly copper.


If you are copper sensitive, then you shouldn’t wear sterling silver at all. This is very rare, but we aren’t ruling out the possibility of the copper causing allergies.

Expect the following reactions if you have skin sensitivity.

The reaction will occur in less than 48 hours after you expose the skin to the nickel.

Notice that the skin reaction that occurs when you have a nickel reaction will not be life-threatening; however, they are so uncomfortable.

  • Expect a rash or some form of bumps on the skin.
  • The reddening of the skin will sometimes change in color.
  • It can be itchy
  • It will also form some dry patches of the skin that look more like a burn.
  • In some cases, you will have blisters that release fluid.

What to do

If you experience the rush as soon as you wear the jewel, then the first thing to do is remove it immediately. The itching is so uncomfortable I won’t have to tell you to remove it. Now if you have mild reactions, then you can let it heal by itself

In most cases, the nickel allergies will leave your skin with time. But if you keep exposing your skin to the nickel, then it will typically affect you.

Those who have a skin allergy always have the worst reaction on the ears and the wrists. Maybe this is because the jewels are very close to the skin.

Now don’t just see the term hypoallergenic and think that the jewels have no nickel. The term hypoallergenic refers to below the normal level of allergenic.

So be careful when buying the silver as sometimes it will still have nickel. Also, the fact that it doesn’t cause a skin reaction on your sister doesn’t mean it won’t to you.


Is sterling silver nickel-free?

Sometimes it’s nickel-free and other times it contains nickels. Notice that nickel is one readily available metal, and yet it’s very cheap.

So most factories will opt to use it in place of copper to make the silver hard and manageable.

So sometimes it can have nickel while other times it just contains copper. It all depends on the factory and the country’s rules.

Is every sterling silver allergy a nickel allergy?

Not necessarily. Commonly, the main cause of allergies in your metals is nickel, but sometimes it’s not. Some people react to copper, and others react to gold plating. So check the content of the sterling silver to know what caused your reaction.

With those allergies, is sterling silver good?

Of course, sterling silver is good. Many people use this kind of silver without reaction. So it’s just about you know if it’s safe to use for you. Remember, sterling silver is in the category of some of the most precious jewels in the market.

With that said, it’s essential to know that not every person reacts to sterling silver. In fact, a good number find it safe to use.

So if it’s your first time buying jewelry, don’t categorize sterling silver in the list of those that will cause skin allergies. Try it first before making a decision.

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