Q. I have been troubled with eczema for the last two years, with the worst outbreaks happening between September and June. I figured it had to do with colder, drier weather.

Then I read a comment from a reader of your column about a reaction to his dental bridge. I don’t have dental work, but it got me thinking. I received a watch for Christmas two years ago and the eczema began around March.

Since I am off during the summer (I work for a school) I don’t wear the watch then. I immediately took it off and within three weeks my eczema has completely cleared up. I don’t know what metal is in the watch, but I won’t wear it anymore.

A. Eczema can be very hard to treat. Many people suffer dry, red, itchy skin, especially when the heat comes on at this time of year. Moisturizers can help, but rarely solve the problem. The link between nickel allergy and eczema has been controversial, but if giving up your watch continues to help your skin, this seems like a pragmatic solution.

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  1. ENW

    I had thought for many years that I had a nickel allergy and severe food allergies. After allergy testing by an oral medicine doctor for lesions in my mouth that looked precancerous, I discovered I was allergic to gold and to cobalt-chromium, the alloy in stainless steel. Since completely eliminating stainless in all food preparation and contact with my skin and mouth (likewise for gold), I no longer have the mouth lesions nor any “food allergies’ and my skin does not get eczema any more. It also has saved me from getting a knee replacement that undoubtedly would have ended badly (a bad knee is better than no knee!).

  2. Mary Lou

    I seem to get eczema only on my ring finger, where I wear my gold wedding ring. It usually crops up in the winter months.

  3. RR

    Please try to find out (and post) at least the name and brand (and model # if available) of the watch so others can research what it is made from. I think it would be important to include in this post for future readers and research. Every testimony is important as we all collectively try to connect the dots for causes and cures for their ailments. Thank you.
    In addition, I have heard of orange juice or other food allergies causing, or exasperating, eczema. I have also read about “leaky gut” contributing. I find it interesting that simply the metal from the watch would be such a big culprit. If the condition persists, without the watch, I included the diet tips in case they are helpful as well.
    I have had psoriasis my whole life and have a nickel allergy (I have to buy nickel free earrings)- I never put this together until today’s post – so thank you. Interesting for sure.

  4. Barb S.

    First, eczema is an auto immune condition. Summer sunshine will always help because it provides Vit D3 that boosts the immune system, balances its responses. So, maybe that’s the explanation, not the watch.
    A really odd response to a watch band was a rigid bracelet that actually pinched a nerve. My index finger was going numb until I gave away that watch!

  5. Dave K.

    Perhaps this person could coat the back of the watch with clear nail polish to continue wearing the watch.

  6. Jan S.

    The only time I’ve had eczema is after I’ve used Dawn or any anti-bacterial soap on my hands. I carry a tiny bar of Dove in my purse to use in airports, etc. and my own soap when staying at a hotel. It’s better to find what’s causing it to get rid of it than a salve.

  7. P Runge

    In my case, watch bands are the culprit. Metal, plastic and fabric all end up causing eczema on my wrists. I’ve switched to the right hand for my watch and in a week or two it crops up. I clean the watch bands with soap and water and alcohol and the eczema returns in a few weeks even with cleaning the band every few days. My solution is change wrists and clean every few days. Sometimes I switch to a pocket watch for a month or two. I’ve even tried wearing the wrist watch outside my shirt cuff which is hard on the watch crystal.

  8. Susan M

    I cannot wear jewelry with nickel it in. I have to buy my ear rings out a a nickle free catalog and my eye glass frames have to be titanium or plastic. Otherwise I break out in blisters where they touch the skin. Timex wrist watches do not bother me however.

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