Why your jewelry is turning your skin green/black

Have you ever gotten a green discoloration on your skin from wearing jewelry? How about a black or a red discoloration? Discoloration where a jewelry touches your skin is due to a combination of factors: the metal of the jewelry, the chemical environment on your skin and your body's immune response to the jewelry.  Oxidation is not a manufacturing defect or fault.

It's a common misconception that only cheap jewelry can turn your skin green. Alloys are commonly made using copper or nickel as an example, which reacts with oxygen to form copper oxide or nickel oxide, or verdigris, which is green.

It's not harmful and wears away a few days after you stop wearing the jewelry. However, fine jewelry also can cause discoloration of your skin.

Silver rings can turn your skin green or black. Silver reacts with acids and air to tarnish to a black color. Sterling silver usually contains about 7% copper, so you can get the green discoloration too. Gold, especially 10k and 14k gold, usually contains enough non-gold metal that it can cause discoloration. White gold is an exception, since it is plated with rhodium, which tends not to discolor. The rhodium plating wears away over time, so a jewelry that initially seems fine may produce a discoloration after it has been worn a while.

Another cause of discoloration may be a reaction to the metal of the jewelry. Some people are sensitive to any of a number of metals used in ring, especially copper and nickel. Applying lotions or other chemicals to your hand while wearing a ring increases the likelihood that the ring, chemical and your skin will react. People who sweat more or exercise on daily basis are most likely to face this problem. Or in some cases, getting stress also cause perspiration.

These skin chemicals contain salt (sodium chloride) or other acidic properties (lactic acid). And when these skin secretions dissolve with the ring chemicals, the gold ring turns finger green. With each chemical used in the ring, you will experience different colors. If the alloy material is copper, you will have green or blue color on your skin. And pure green would result if the ring is made of nickel mostly. This color formation around the finger is not harmful and can be washed away with a bit of effort on your part.

Some theories suggest gold jewelry turns skin green because of iron deficiency or anemia in the user’s body. Though it is not a proved theory but it can be related to skin discoloration. PH level in your body can get effected by the iron levels in your blood. If the PH level turns more acidic, it may cause a chemical reaction with the metals in the ring like copper and nickel.

The same goes for pregnancy, because the only reason why the rings are turning your skin green, it’s because of the chemical reaction.

If something like this happens to you, don’t get panic. It is normal and not harmful in any way. As the ring is removed, the green color would also wear off with in sometime

The best you can do is to remove your jewelry before washing, bathing or any other task that can dampen it.

If you find it hard to remove your jewelry each time, apply a polymer coating (or simply apply your clear nail polish) on it and let it dry before putting it on. This will refrain the direct contact of skin with the metal. Reapply, if it wears off.

Try your best to keep your jewelry away from sweat or perspiration. Remove it if you exercise or do anything that cause sweating.

Make it habitual to clean your jewelry on weekly basis. Use polishing cloth to wipe silver jewelry. This will lessen the chances of skin oxidization.

Adding a layer of protection with a layer of polymer such as products like "Jewelry Shield" can also help.

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