Allergy to Cheap Jewelry? Nanoparticles May Make It a Thing of the Past

Nanoparticles added to a cream could prevent nickel-induced allergies, according to a study from Brigham and Women's hospital shows. Photo credit: Praveen Kumar Vemula, BWH.

Nickel-induced dermatitis is more common than it sounds. In fact, about fifteen percent of the US population is allergic to the nickel found in many everyday objects, such as jewelry, watches, metal household items, and coins. The allergy itself is due to nickel salts formed by contact-induced perspiration, and, of course, isn't helped by the wide availability of cheap disposable jewelry.

Solution such as specially formulated creams, anti-inflammatory drugs or coating jewelry with nail polish have done little to alleviate the many ways in which allergy-induced rashes can be triggered in the majority of people.

Nevertheless, a team at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) is now reporting they may have developed a potential solution to the nickel allergy problem - by using nanoparticles. By using calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate nanoparticles - both designated by the FDA as being generally recognized as safe for human use - they found these nanoparticles to sequester nickel with high success rates.

When formulated as part of a wash-off cream and applied to skin of living animals, the nanoparticles were preventing inflammation with extremely high efficiency.

The study was led by Jeffrey Karp, co-director of the center for Regenerative Therapeutics at BWH, with postdoc Praveen Kumar Vemula and R. Rox Anderson. You can read more of the study in full, online in Nature Nanotechnology (abstract free; non-subscribers pay for content).

Sandro Matosevic is a new contributor to ChEnected. He is currently a research associate at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida where his work is at the interface of synthetic biology, biophysics, bioengineering, and microfluidics.

Will this technology help you put a little more bling in your life?


ehorahan's picture

Nice first post!__I personally am not allergic to Nickel. This is interesting research, but I am wondering about its feasibility in the market. Would it be more expensive to buy the cheap jewelry and the cream? Or the pure jewelry?