If someone is allergic to a metal, what treatments are available?

Allergy treatment written on heart with stethoscope


Treatments are tailored for each patient and is dependent upon their symptoms and the specific circumstances surrounding their allergic responses. Once a metal allergy has been confirmed, the best treatment is avoidance of metal-releasing items.

In patients who are experiencing contact dermatitis due to a metal that is in contact with their skin as seen with jewelry and piercings, they can simply remove the metal object and monitor the reaction, which in most cases will improve over time. 

With more severe cases of contact dermatitis, additional treatment may be necessary, which often includes the use of medications, both oral and topically applied. Even with treatment, it may take several weeks for a rash to subside. The treatments for contact dermatitis and skin reactions may include any combination of the following:

Allergy warning sign

Avoidance: If you can learn what is causing the rash, take steps to avoid it or minimize exposure.

Antihistamine medication

Antihistamines: These block histamines and help to relieve symptoms of allergies.

Putting anti-itch cream on skin

Anti-itch creams: Corticosteroid creams can ease inflammation and itching.

Bottle of oral steroids

Oral steroids: Prednisone, a type of steroid, can relieve rash symptoms that don’t respond to antihistamines or other treatments.

Needle in vial of medication

Immunosuppressive medications: This is reserved for severe cases, after repeated bouts of oral steroids have failed to provide symptomatic relief of allergic reactions

For those individuals, who are allergic to one or more metals, and are planning to undergo surgical intervention where a metallic medical or dental device will be implanted, it would be important to notify their doctor to avoid implantation of a device that could cause an allergic response and subsequent sequalae. Surgeons and dentists have options and could choose an alternative implant that is manufactured from other metals, to which a patient is not allergic.

For example, a surgeon or dentist may choose to use an implant that is manufactured using a Zirconium ceramic or an implant with a special hypoallergenic coating to minimize the risk of provoking an allergic response.

In those individuals, who are experiencing significant allergic reactions due to metallic devices that had been previously implanted, they may consider undergoing surgical removal of the implant. This would be best discussed with their physicians and healthcare team.

Illustration showing various areas of pain

For those patients who are hypersensitive to a metal, but experience tolerable and less severe reactions to previously placed metallic implants, it would be best

to avoid having any future surgeries where those suspect metals would be implanted. These individuals may wish to undergo testing to determine what metals to which they may be allergic. This information would allow them to avoid those metals that could potentially elicit an allergic response and adverse sequalae.

It is always prudent for individuals to reach out to their healthcare providers to review any symptoms that they may be experiencing and to determine the best course of action that could be taken with regards to their care.