Allergic to Metals? Be Cautious Around These Items

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allergic to metals

Metal allergies affect up to 15% of the population causing allergic contact dermatitis. An allergic reaction usually occurs within 24–48 hours of contact with metal. Nickel, cobalt, and chromates are the main culprits of metal allergies. If you’re allergic to metals, you already know to stay away from coins and jewelry; but, you may not know that some metals lurk in other items.  If you have a metal allergy, here are some common places where metals can hide.

Cell phones

Have you noticed a skin rash on your face, ears, or hands? It could be from your cell phone. Metals like chromium and nickel are present in almost all cell phone casings. To limit your direct contact with these metals, we recommend using your phone with a headset or Bluetooth.


Did you know that some of your favorite cosmetics may contain metals? Eyeliner and eye shadow may contain chromates. Chromium is also found in pigments used in cosmetics. A green or yellow color is generally the sign of chromates. Be sure to read the ingredient list of cosmetics before you buy them or opt for all-natural products.

Dental implants

Many implants are made of titanium. So, before you visit a dental care provider, ask what type of implants they offer. We recommend searching for metal-free options, such as zirconia dental implants. These implants are a safe option for allergic individuals.

Eyeglass frames

Some eyeglass frames are alloyed with nickel or cobalt. So, if you experience an allergic reaction around the skin that comes in contact with your glasses, your frames could be to blame. If you have a metal allergy, we recommend choosing eyeglass frames made with stainless steel or plastic to avoid a reaction.

Tattoo ink

Pigments in tattoo inks contain high levels of chromium, cobalt, nickel, and mercury. Also, the needles themselves can contain chromium and nickel. If you are considering getting a tattoo, be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our allergists for an allergy patch test to determine which metals your skin reacts to. 

Certain foods/ drinks

Nickel is present in some food products including:

  • black tea
  • some seeds and nuts
  • soy milk
  • chocolate and cocoa powders
  • some canned, preserved, and processed foods
  • bananas

If you’re allergic to metals, you may react to these foods. Symptoms include an itchy tongue and mouth, swollen mouth, and in rare cases, throat swelling. Seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms after consuming foods associated with metal.

Our allergy care team has advanced and specialized training in identifying and managing allergic conditions. To determine your metal allergy and for immediate treatment, call (212) 686-4448 today to schedule your appointment at one of our six allergy centers in NYC.