Contact eczema due to nickel and chromium

Metals are a major source of contact eczema. Nickel eczema and chromium eczema are particularly common and require specific management.



Where are nickel and chromium found?

Nickel and chromium are ubiquitous metals, i.e. they are present almost everywhere. They can be the cause of an eczema flare-up in many contexts, both domestic and professional:

  • Nickel and chromium are used in the composition of many metallic products. Nickel is combined with copper in coins and can lead to dermatitis in case of frequent handling (shopkeepers, waiters, etc.);
  • Nickel is present in many clothes and accessories. Nickel allergy results in particular in an allergy to pants buttons, jewelry allergy, belt buckles allergy or even glasses allergy;
  • Chromium is present in cement, paints, cleaning products but also in leather tanning products. Chromium allergy can therefore result in an allergy to shoes or leather sofas.

Who is affected by nickel and chromium contact eczema?

Allergic eczema due to nickel and chromium metals can affect anyone: both children and adults, in a professional environment (coins, kitchen utensils, tools, etc.) or domestic environment, with or without associated atopic dermatitis.

What is the best treatment for contact eczema due to nickel and chromium?

When a flare-up of contact eczema occurs, it should be treated by applying a cortisone cream to the plaques. A soothing repair cream applied to the lesions or on top of the topical corticosteroid reinforces its efficacy. Emollient applied as a follow-up hydrates the skin and prevents new flare-ups.

Contact allergy is highlighted by allergy tests. At the end of these tests, the physician gives the patient an avoidance list that includes the main sources of nickel or chromium, both in the workplace, at home and in food: tea, coffee, wine, beer, wholegrain starchy foods, pears, spinach, oysters, tinned food, etc. The method of cooking food is also to be taken into account: avoid using stainless steel containers, opt for glass, cast iron or Teflon.

Back to top