Many people suffer dermatitis when they come into contact with nickel compounds as they are considered potent skin sensitizers.(1) Nickel is recognised as the single most common cause of contact dermatitis in women and many of those who suffer prolonged eczema receive disability pensions.(2) In people exposed occupationally, the condition is known as "Nickel itch".
In contrast, nickel is not a potent skin sensitizer in most of the animal tests used to predict allergic responses.(3) The Draize guinea pig test, for instance, suggests that nickel does not cause allergic reactions. Even in the two most widely used animal procedures, nickel produces either no response (the Buehler Test) or only a moderate response (the Maximization Test). Both methods also use guinea pigs.
1) Medical Toxicology, Eds. M.J.Ellenhon &: D.G.Barceloux (Elsevier, 1988).
2) Textbook of Dermatology VoL 1, 5th edition, Eds. R.H.Champion et al (Blackwell Scientiflc Publications, 1992).
3) P.A.Botham et al, Food & Chemical Toxicology, 1991, vol.29, 275-286.
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