My Nickel Food Allergy

Living with food allergies requires constant awareness and persistence. Controlling what I eat is a continual challenge. When I ingest foods with higher concentrations of nickel I experience eczema, or a severe type of atopic dermatitis. It results in an unpleasant and embarrassing rash on my neck and elbow. Avoiding foods that contain nickel is the best treatment for my nickel food allergy.

Christy Cushing hiking Saddle Mountain in Oregon.

One day I noticed I kept repeatedly itching my left eye. All the skin around my eye, including my eyelid was inflamed. Physically, it looked like how it felt, like it burned. My entire face looked redder than usual too. Wearing glasses, I hardly noticed my eye and skin’s appearance.

Unable to control the itching, my dermatologist recommended I undergo a skin patch test to determine if there was an unknown allergen irritating my skin. I started the test on Monday, when a nurse applied over 127 potential allergens within little squares all over my back. I was told to not cleanse or itch my back, as it could compromise the results. On Friday, the dermatologist identified that I am allergic to neomycin, thimerosal, and nickel.

Neomycin is the active ingredient in Neosporin. This allergen is the easiest to avoid. I stopped using Neosporin and switched to using Polysporin. Similarly, it has been easy for me to avoid thimerosal, which is a preservative used in vaccines.

Avoiding nickel is an ongoing battle. Many foods have high concentrations of nickel. My eczema rash quickly improved when I went on a low nickel diet.

Foods with high concentrations of nickel include: whole grains, leafy greens such as cabbage, spinach, lettuce, sprouts, peas, leeks, beans, soy, pineapple, raspberry, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, marzipan, nuts, chocolate, bran, oats, millet, multi-grains, whole wheat, unpolished brown rice, lentils, and shellfish.

I have created this website to discuss my experiences. Since my diagnosis in 2009, I have felt alone dealing with my unique nickel food allergy. I want to create a community where people who experience an allergic reaction when they ingest nickel, can find some relief through connecting with others.

If you’re newly diagnosed or have lived with this unique allergy for years, there’s a lot of great information on my site. Specific blog posts you might find especially helpful include:

Where It All Began

Five Things I Wish I Knew When First Diagnosed

FAQs About Nickel Allergies

Should You Try the Low Nickel Diet?

How to Use A Food Journal

Low Nickel Grocery Shopping Tips

Nature of a Nickel Food Allergy

Low Nickel Gardening (I discuss the various low nickel diet lists)

Dining Out with a Nickel Food Allergy

Avoiding Nickel Toxicity with Fiber


What about wheat on the low nickel diet?

Two Faces of Nickel

Skin Care for Atopic Dermatitis

My Nickel Free or Low Nickel Recipes

If you have specific questions, would like me to feature a nickel free product, or if you want to share some cool thoughts and ideas don’t hesitate to contact me. I always enjoy hearing from you! You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter below!

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