Your wedding ring is a symbol of that forever commitment you've made to your spouse. It's the ring you probably wear daily, but when a rash appears near the ring, removing the ring is the first step to healing the skin. Next, apply an over-the-counter cortisone ointment. Finally, identify the cause of the irritation so you can prevent future rashes and return the ring to your finger.
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The rash around your ring finger may be caused by an allergy to nickel. If you're allergic to nickel, you've likely experienced a red, scaly rash from other jewelry containing nickel and tried staying away from this metal. What you may not have realized is sterling silver, gold and even platinum can contain small amounts of nickel. The karat of the metal determines the purity of the metal. For example, a 24-karat gold ring is 99.9 percent pure gold; the remaining 0.1 percent might be a nickel alloy, or it might be silver, copper or rhodium. An 18-karat ring is 75 percent gold and a 12-karat ring is only 50 percent gold. Platinum is promoted as a hypoallergenic metal, but in some cases, a platinum ring can contain 5 percent nickel.
If you suspect your rash is the result of an allergic reaction to nickel, take your wedding ring to a jeweler to have the metal tested. Your jeweler may find that prolonged wear of the ring has worn down the outer coat of the ring, exposing your skin to the nickel mixed in with the silver, gold or platinum. The jeweler can recoat your ring in rhodium or platinum to protect your finger from the nickel and bring the ring back to its original shine and color. For a quick and more temporary fix, a coat of clear nail polish applied on the inside of the ring will do the trick.
Sometimes a wedding ring rash is caused not by allergy to the ring itself, but what's underneath it -- trapped particles. This type of rash is most prevalent with wedding rings since those rings are rarely removed. Although trapped dirt can irritate skin, the most common culprit is actually soap particles trapped from washing the hands while wearing the ring. Cold, dry weather and the ring rubbing against the skin can further irritate the skin.
The remedy to a trapped-particle rash is simple: Take your ring off when you wash your hands. Rinse and dry your fingers thoroughly before replacing the ring. If removing your ring is not a practical option, rinse your hands well after washing and then apply a moisturizer containing ceramides under and around your ring, every time you wash. Ceramides are fats that help protect the outermost layer of skin. To keep your skin healthy and your ring looking its best, invest in an ammonia-based jewelry cleaner. The cleaner will remove hidden dirt that soap and water miss.