Where to start, what specialist to see, and what diagnostic test to request.
Do you struggle with uncontrollable eczema? Are you allergic to jewelry? Did you develop worsening eczema from eating healthier or changing to a plant-based diet? Do you have irritable bowel syndrome or another gut related disorder? Do you suffer from fatigue or joint pain?
These are some common symptoms that a person with a rare type of allergic contact dermatitis to metal may have. This condition is known as systemic contact dermatitis or systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS).
Systemic contact dermatitis (SCD) is characterized by developing symptoms, most commonly skin rashes, from exposures to an allergen by various routes, not limited to physical contact. Ingesting, infusing, inhaling and implanting are other ways in which we are exposed to allergens. Individuals with SCD will experience symptoms, such as a relapse in eczema, when exposed to allergens via any route. For example, if a person with a nickel allergy has SCD or systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS), they could experience a flare in rashes 1-4 days after eating foods high in nickel, such as chocolate, nuts, seeds, beans, soy, and whole grains.
1. Request patch testing with a dermatologist.
2. After confirming what you are allergic to via patch testing, adhere to strict avoidance strategies. Be diligent to not touch, wear or apply any products in your environment that contain the allergen(s) you are sensitized to. Contact Allergen Management Program is a helpful tool to ensure your products are safe.
3. If all else fails and you still have uncontrollable eczema, discuss trialing a low nickel or low cobalt diet with your doctor. It is helpful to bring research articles on SCD to cobalt and systemic nickel allergy syndrome (#SNAS) to review with your doctor.
4. Once you get the okay from your doctor to begin a low nickel or low cobalt diet, find the best resources. A few of my favorite are:
It may take around 6 weeks - 4 months to notice any significant improvement in rashes after starting a low nickel or low cobalt diet. Histamine intolerance could play a role in worsening eczema as well. A helpful resource for a low histamine diet is: