Home » Metal Allergies

Metal Allergies

Metal allergies are quite common and affect about fifteen percent of the population. These allergies are a significant problem because of metals implants used by orthopedic surgeons, cardiac surgeons (cardiac stents), and dentists. Approximately twenty-five percent of patients with a stable joint implant – and sixty percent of patients with an unstable joint implant – suffer from these allergies. In some cases, suffering results in the removal of the offending implant and/or agreeing to chronic immunosuppressive therapy.

Although metal allergies may develop after placement of a patient’s metal implant, it’s important to perform allergy testing as well as lymphocyte transformation testing before the placement of an implant to determine which implant is best — and biocompatible — for the individual. Patients may possess unknown allergies to metals such as titanium, vanadium, aluminum, and others. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta performs all appropriate tests for patients prior to implant or dental surgery. This cost-effective, sensible approach saves patients agony and time spent to manage later allergy symptoms.

Dental Appliances, Surgery, and Allergies

Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta can also help patients to experience less pain at the dentist or orthodontist. According to “Biocompatibility of Dental Materials,” the allergic individual may suffer local or systemic reactions to metals in common use. Women, for example, suffer allergies to metals at the dentist’s office about ten times more frequently than men. Orthodontic treatments, prosthetic devices, tooth implants, or metal braces may contain trace amounts of nickel, cobalt, titanium, and other metals. According to researchers, stainless steel implements have also caused allergic reactions and distress.

Metals and Contact Dermatitis

In comparison, common allergies to other metals, such as nickel, result in contact dermatitis. For instance, if a patient is allergic to nickel, wearing jewelry made from nickel is avoidable. However, until the patient realizes that his or her dry, itchy, blistering rash results from interaction with nickel or other metals, he or she may not realize that metals could cause such misery. If his or her skin is broken (e.g. from abrasion or sunburn), contact with the metal may be even more painful. For more information on allergies, click here.

For instance, some patients with an unknown metal allergy buy a pair of jeans with rivets, metal belt buckles, watches, or body-pierce jewelry made of base metals such as nickel. The patient may develop an intractable facial rash without realizing his or her mobile is fabricated with tiny amounts of nickel. Orthodontic braces, or cookware made from nickel, aluminum, or cast iron can leach into foods. Once consumed, allergic patients may experience negative consequences. Still other patients experience strong contact dermatitis from aluminum compounds in some deodorants.


Dr. Kathleen J. Smith evaluates each patient for potential allergies. If metals are the probable cause of the patient’s allergic reaction, she will recommend various tests to confirm the diagnosis.


After diagnosis, Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta will recommend a variety of treatments options to patients. As described above, treatment options can be complex — such as those concerning a surgical implant — or simple — such as those involved with contact dermatitis.


Patients with concerns about metal allergies in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, including Decatur, North Atlanta, Panthersville, and surrounding areas, should call Dr. Kathleen J. Smith to arrange an appointment at 678-904-4932.

American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Logo