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Allergic Reaction to Ear Piercing

This photo shows the earlobe of a 21 year old woman who presented to a clinic with a growing hard red nodule that was located where she had her ear pierced 5 years ago. She removed the earring after a few years because it never healed and was always inflamed.

A biopsy was done of the nodule and pathology showed a skin reaction with epithelioid histiocytes surrounded by a dense infiltrate of lymphocytes.

Allergic patch testing was done and it showed a positive reaction to nickel and a strong reaction to palladium. The skin reaction to palladium (done on her back) persisted for months and was not relieved with strong corticosteroid cream.

The reaction on her skin finally disappeared after injecting it with corticosteroids. The ear lesion required surgical excision.

Allergies to metals are common and any piercing that does not heal may be an allergic reaction to one of the metals or alloys used in the metal. Similar cases have occurred with nickel, gold and platinum from ear piercings.

From Medscape and the American Contact Dermatitis Society, 2008


What about that nasty cut on her thumb. Did you stitch that up?
ERP said…
My ex-girlfriend used to get a severe reaction to silver earring studs - but not gold. Interesting.
K said…
From what I can recall, gold is one of the things a person is least likely to be allergic to, since it's fairly inert or something. I cannot verify this off the top of my head, though.

I'm just glad (knock on wood) that my ear piercings are such that I can get away with not wearing earrings for weeks at a time - one of my aunts has to wear earrings pretty much every day or they start to close up.
Good thing she didn't have her tongue pierced. Whoa!!
MariRose said…
Neither gold nor silver are really ideal metals for a piercing, as they are soft, creating scratches where bacteria can accumulate, and they are often alloyed with nickel. The best materials to be pierced with are 316LVM implant grade stainless steel, niobium, platinum or an inert plastic such as PTFE. Any professional piercer should be using these materials. (Which is why they cost more than "mall piercers" and amateurs with guns.)
Unknown said…
my ears are also allergic to nickle gold and silver. I can wear them during the day but no over long periods of time or over night.. it is always a struggle when I want new earings because I have to buy titanium body peircing rings that cost 30$ for one earing and $60 for the pair.. when my ears get infected the are inflamed and red and burning hot and sometimes even result in a staff infection which requires a trip to the doctor along with antibiotics also I am allergic to pennylisilan, a popular antibiotic
Unknown said…
I have that too mine is from gold I took it out asap.
viagra online said…
Well I never had one, I don't like it really, thanks anyway. said…
Thank you for the post, pretty helpful info.
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