If you have any chronic health condition, wearing a high-quality medical ID is critical to keeping you safe in a medical emergency. But what if you have an allergy to the nickel or metal found in many medical IDs?
The itching, rash, and discomfort that metal allergies can cause are disruptive and can prevent you from wearing a traditional medical ID that contains nickel or metal. Fortunately, with MedicAlert, you can find several options that are safe and non-irritating for people with metal allergies.
What is an allergy to nickel or other metals?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, allergies to nickel and metal cause a skin reaction called allergic contact dermatitis. Nickel is a common allergen, affecting as many as 10% of the population.
Like any other allergy, with a nickel or metal allergy, the body reacts to exposure to the allergen (in this case metal) as if it is a foreign invader. With nickel and metal allergies, the result is red, burning, itchy skin, sometimes with blisters, cracks, and swelling.
This allergic contact dermatitis is a delayed reaction that usually appears within a day or two of exposure to nickel or metal.
Common metals that people are allergic to include:
- Yellow gold below 14 karat
- White gold
Lower-quality jewelry and jewelry that is plated rather than solid often also contain nickel, cobalt, or chromates.
Where can nickel or other metals be found?
Along with jewelry, nickel and other metal allergens can sometimes hide in places you might never have considered. These include:
- Eyeglass frames
- Tattoo ink
- Cell phones
- Clothing hardware like zippers and buttons
- Some soaps
- Artificial joints
- Medical IDs
Discovering that you are allergic to the metal in your medical ID is a big concern, since wearing a medical ID at all times is important. Finding an alternative solution is a top priority.
What medical ID can be worn if someone is allergic to nickel or another metal?
Traditional medical IDs often come in the form of a necklace or bracelet. These are commonly made of metal, but with MedicAlert’s large selection of IDs, you have many options that are low allergen, non-metallic, and safe to wear if you have an allergy to nickel or another metal.
- Smart medical ID card– this style of ID uses proven QR code technology to share information quickly. They can be stored in wallets, backpacks, and more.
- MedicAlert ICE tags– this set of 4 durable vinyl stickers with custom QR code information can be adhered to multiple surfaces, from cell phones to mobility aids or other everyday items.
- MedicAlert seat belt ID holder– smart medical ID cards slide easily into this holder, which can be used on seat belts, backpack straps, wheelchairs, walkers, bicycles, as well as other creative uses.
- Shoe tags– these are a perfect option for anyone with a metal allergy because they can be attached to shoelaces, backpacks, laptop bags, purses, and other items.
- Sport bands– made of nylon, these bracelets avoid the common issue of metal bands touching the skin
How do you treat an allergy to metal?
Although it’s not possible to cure an allergy to metal, some treatments can improve symptoms. These include using antihistamines that reduce allergy symptoms as well as applying lotions, creams, oatmeal baths, and topical steroid medication to treat dermatitis that develops after coming in contact with metal.
If symptoms are severe, oral corticosteroids or phototherapy (a special kind of light therapy) may be used to try to improve the problem. Figuring out what works best can be a trial and error process for each person.
How can someone manage a metal allergy?
The best way to manage a metal allergy is to avoid contact with metals that you are allergic to.
By being aware of the hidden sources of metal exposure discussed above, you can eliminate those risks from your daily life. Choosing hypoallergenic jewelry and medical IDs can reduce your chances of metal exposure and allergy symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic recommends using home nickel test kits to check for nickel in metal items you are unsure about. They also suggest using substitutes such as plastic, leather, cloth, titanium, or coated metals for items like watch bands, zippers, and eyeglass frames.
And finally, creating a barrier can help- such as wearing gloves, covering metal handles with duct tape, or using clear nail polish on jewelry.
How do you become a MedicAlert member?
When you purchase a hypoallergenic MedicAlert ID, you also have the option to add membership in a MedicAlert Protection Plan. This membership gives you the benefit of an extra layer of protection in an emergency, with services such as:
- A robust digital health profile with important details for first responders, such as your medical history, allergies, medications, surgical history, vaccines, and more
- A 24/7 Emergency Response Team available to answer questions about your healthcare needs no matter when an emergency happens
- Emergency contact notification, so your loved ones can be by your side quickly in an emergency.
- Patient instructions that describe important details like test contraindications and rescue medications you may need to take
- Storage of your advance directives and DNR status
- A printable patient profile that you can use for doctor’s appointments
What should you engrave on a MedicAlert ID?
Each MedicAlert ID carries a globally recognized symbol for medical emergencies and free customized engraving with your personalized details. When choosing your engraving, you’ll want to add information such as:
- Medical history
- Implanted medical devices
- Any other information you want first responders to see quickly
With your new allergy-free MedicAlert ID, you can live life worry-free knowing you’re joining millions of other people over the past 65 years who have trusted MedicAlert to protect them in an emergency.