Nickel allergy creates health challenges, student says

Bailey Smith, News Writer

Look down at your hands.

Imagine touching an everyday item and getting rashes that cover your face and arms and having random bruises appearing on your body.

Now, imagine that happening to you every day.

Four weeks ago, a trip to the doctor concerning a rash altered the life of one girl.
Kathryn Sterling, a sophomore theatre major, was diagnosed with a severe allergic reaction to nickel, causing contact dermatitis.

“About 16 percent of men and 36 percent of women under the age of 18 have a nickel allergy in the United States,” according to healthline.com.

Medicinenet.com defines contact dermatitis as a rash that occurs when exposed to a substance capable of producing an allergic reaction.

However, Sterling’s reaction affects more than just her skin.

“My throat swells if I eat anything with nickel in it or anything that nickel touches.”

People diagnosed with a mild allergy are be unable to wear jewelry, but Sterling’s case is more severe.

Everyday items like keys, door knobs, pens and chairs cause Sterling’s allergy to flare.

“I have to be cautious with everything I do. It’s overwhelming.”

Food items like soy, fish and chocolate contain traces of nickel.

“I changed the way I eat too,” said Sterling. “The Caf uses plastic plates and cups, but I have to bring my own utensils. I can’t use their metal silverware.

“I just hope more school cafeterias become aware of this. There are alternative options for people with a peanut allergy or vegetarians. What about those of us with a nickel allergy?” said Sterling.

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