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June 3, 1974

Ear Piercing Hazard of Nickel-Gold Sensitization

Author Affiliations

Woodside, Long Island, NY

JAMA. 1974;228(10):1226. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230350016004

To the Editor.—  The clinical note of Johnson et al (227:1165, 1974) emphasizes the danger of a viral infection with the production of hepatitis. Staphylococcus infections are also not unusual. Another lesser-known hazard is the production of allergic contact sensitivity to nickel and gold.In the past year, I have studied six women and one man who became sensitized to nickel from having their ears pierced and nickel-plated or nickel-gold alloy earrings inserted. One other patient became sensitized to gold from the procedure.Gaul (200:176, 1967) reported that:[The ear piercing] fashion has inadvertently produced an outbreak of earlobe dermatitis... [An] unknown number of subjects will develop a generalized nickel sensitivity... [that] will persist indefinitely [by having their ears pierced and then wearing nickel-containing jewelry.]There is no doubt that injury to the skin from mechanical, physical, or chemical agents followed by intimate contact with sensitizing allergens favors the development