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  • Karen Miller

Nickel and Dime Allergies

Updated: Jun 8

I think last night took a few years off my dog's life. The neighbors and their friends had an arsenal of fireworks that they lit up from around 9:15 to 10:15. Woohoo for independence!

My poor son said he was sitting in his car a block away for 20 minutes because he was afraid to drive down to the cul-de-sac to our house with all of the big fireworks going off. He had just gotten off his 8 hour shift at Kroger.

But I had just gotten home from my business partner's house where we got in the hot tub after eating smoked ribs so nothing was going to mess with my mellow mood.

I think everyone needed some way to socialize and be distracted from our current relentless situation. It's pretty safe to say we are all tired of Coronavirus. But as Andrew Yang tweeted - "Coronavirus doesn't care if you're tired of Coronavirus'.

So I'm not really blogging about COVID-19 today, except as it pertains to my allergies.

For those of you who don't know my story - I began to have severe allergic reactions to everything (and I do mean everything) in 2004. I eventually was referred by my dermatologist (because every remedy he suggested just made the rashes get worse) to THE expert in contact dermatitis - Dr. Joseph Fowler in Louisville, KY.

He literally wrote the textbook on contact dermatitis that all of the Dermatology residents use to learn how to treat contact dermatitis.

So when I was patch tested and got my (very long) list of things to avoid, I wasn't surprised to see nickel on the list.

When I finally convinced my mom to let me get my ears pierced when I was around 15 years old, one of my ears blew up like a balloon and oozed a sticky fluid that crusted all over the earring stud. (Hope you are not eating whilst reading)

I think she thought it was infected but it was itchy and I figured out that it was only certain earrings that caused a reaction. Most cheap earrings have nickel in the posts/wires.

So I was already avoiding nickel in earrings but since my immune system was 'flared up' Dr. Fowler told me to also avoid metal zippers, hook and eyes, watch bands, jeans with metal studs or buttons, metal buckles on shoes, knitting needles, acupuncture needles, sewing needles and pins, safety pins, coins (yes - nickels and dimes) and of course, cheap jewelry.

More women have nickel allergy (5:1 ratio) because men don't usually pierce their ears (and when they do they usually wear just one set of high quality earrings and don't change them out daily). Men usually become allergic with industrial exposure (ie at work) and women usually react to jewelry.

So he assured me that avoiding contact with nickel would be sufficient. He also said that nickel was in foods but that most people didn't need to reduce the nickel in their diets.

So of course I did not ever reduce the nickel in my diet. Whaahhh whaaah

You can guess where this is going!

I was doing my detox a couple of weeks ago using a new detox kit - search NuMedica on my Fullscript to see the kit - they have a 7 day and 14 day- I really liked their kit better than others I've used because it was easier and it contained everything you needed in one kit - and I didn't get bloated and look like I was pregnant!-

But still I didn't lose any weight and while doing a little research I came across a low nickel diet. A light bulb turned on. I dug out all my old food sensitivity tests and sure enough, all of the foods that I reacted to were high nickel foods.

Since I have an allergy to artificial vanilla (vanillin - used in a lot of vanilla flavored items, including detox shakes), I always get the chocolate flavored shakes. Chocolate is very high on the nickel content list.

Other high nickel foods: beans, lentils, lettuces, kale, spinach, oats, nuts, seeds, tea, pineapple, dates, figs, prunes and raspberries. Also some spices like cinnamon. When I did a detox I was usually consuming all of these every day. My fiber powder that I used (and still love, even though I am avoiding it now) had flax and chia seeds and prune powder - all bad for me!

I also found out that the stainless steel (flatware, saucepans, insulated tumblers that I used to keep my shakes cold) will leach nickel if the contents are slightly acidic. So I was loading myself up with nickel every day, all day long.

So my current distraction is figuring out what I can eat! I'm still washing hands obsessively, using hand sanitizer and wearing a mask at the office and in the grocery store to help avoid getting Covid-19 but my main focus is lowering the amount of nickel I am exposed to every day.

Nickel is in the crust of the earth and in all foods. So I'm literally allergic to everything!

But for those of you who, like me, have a nickel allergy and want to try a low nickel diet to see if certain symptoms improve (allergy symptoms can be anything - not just rashes and itchy ears - bloating, constipation, difficulty losing weight, joint aches, muscle aches, brain fog, etc), here is the short list of things to avoid:

Shellfish (including shrimp and crawfish) - boo

Chocolate - double boo

Beans - all legumes











Multigrain breads, muesli


Rice (unpolished)

Rye bran

Seeds (sesame, sunflower, etc)

Wheat bran

Whole grains

Fruits: Dates, figs, pineapple, prunes, raspberries

Drinks: Chocolate, tea and I would add probably anything in a can

Nuts: Almonds, Hazelnuts, Peanuts

Misc: Baking powder, Linseed and linseed oil, strong licorice, sweets with chocolate, vitamins containing nickel

(list from Fisher's Contact Dermatitis textbook, Fifth Ed. page 728-729)

Happy July and Stay Safe!


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