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Having sensitive ears can make buying jewelry a complex, frustrating process. It can become particularly infuriating when manufacturers label their earrings as ‘hypoallergenic’, without making it clear that allergic reactions can still occur when you wear hypoallergenic metals.
The best way to avoid flaring up any ear sensitivities is by understanding why sensitive ears occur, and what metals trigger irritation.
In this article, we’re going to discuss whether gold filled earrings are good for sensitive ears, while also giving you some expert tips on buying sensitive-friendly jewelry and dealing with ear sensitivity. Let’s get started!
What causes sensitive ears?
In most cases, sensitive ears are caused by an allergic reaction to certain metals, particularly when these metals come into contact with the skin for long periods of time. It’s important to remember that the skin on your ears is incredibly delicate, which may explain why you might be able to wear bracelets and rings without triggering a sensitivity flare up.
When it comes to mass-market jewelry, earrings are often manufactured using cheap metals such as nickel and copper, both of which are known to cause irritation in those with sensitive skin. While you might feel like the only one in your friend group to experience metal sensitivity, it’s a common skin condition that impacts between 10-15% of the population.
For most people, metal hypersensitivity is more of an annoyance than a serious condition; flare-ups tend to resemble contact dermatitis, resulting in red and irritated skin around your earlobes and ear piercings. Note: If you experience recurring episodes of skin irritation but don’t have any known metal allergies, you can also try cleaning your earrings regularly and see if you notice any improvements.
Are gold filled earrings good for sensitive ears?
In order to answer this question, it’s important to first understand how gold-filled earrings are made. Generally, gold filled earrings only contain a thin band of gold, which is melded around other common metals, such as nickel, copper, or sterling silver. In theory, this means that someone with sensitive ears could wear a pair of gold-filled earrings without exposing their skin to irritating metals.
At face value, it might seem like a great idea; as gold itself is usually safe for sensitive ears, this may seem like the perfect way to enjoy affordable gold earrings without triggering a sensitivity flare-up.
However, there’s a catch. With time, the thin gold band around the earrings is bound to tarnish via general wear and tear, especially if it’s made with a low percentage of gold karat (which is what most mass-market gold-filled earrings will use.) This means that the earrings will eventually end up exposing the sensitive skin to the irritating base metals, resulting in irritation. In short, gold filled earrings aren’t good for sensitive ears.
What metals are safe for sensitive ears?
So, what are your options if common metals irritate your ears? Rather than opting for gold filled earrings, buying real gold earrings (with a minimum karat of 18k) is the best way to enjoy gold jewelry if you suffer from metal sensitivity. Gold is a soft, hypoallergenic metal, and gold earrings made with high levels of gold karat purity are associated with incredibly low instances of skin sensitivity.
This is because ear sensitivity isn’t caused by an allergic reaction to gold (or even silver) but caused by an allergic reaction to the alloyed metal used in the common jewelry market. The higher the gold karat, the less nickel you’ll be exposed to.
For example, 22 carat gold earrings are effectively guaranteed to not irritate your ears. 22k karat gold represents over 90% pure gold, meaning the earrings will contain less than 9% alloyed metals that pose an irritation risk to your ears. When it comes to avoiding skin irritation and sensitivity, investing in high-quality, high-karat jewelry is your best option.
The bottom line
While gold earrings with a high karat count might seem out of your budget range, gold is – above all – an investment. Rather than spending $30 every month on pairs of earrings that end up irritating your skin, you can invest in high-quality jewelry that won’t trigger a sensitivity flare up.