A long-suffering housewife has told how a bizarre allergy has left her living in the stone age – as she breaks out blisters whenever she touches METAL.
Kim Taylor, 48, is so severely allergic to nickel that even the slightest contact can leave her skin covered in a red itchy rash and painful blisters.
She cannot use coins, cutlery, zips and has to coat all metal surfaces she touches regularly with a fine film of clear nail varnish – including her bra clasp and glasses.
Unlucky Kim said she has had to take special measures to adapt to modern life, such as carrying around wooden-handled cutlery to use when eating out and coating her door handles.
Nickel is a hard, strong silver-white metal used extensively for making alloys because of its high resistance to corrosion.
It is found in numerous metallic items including batteries, keys, machinery parts and Kim even has to avoid nuts, cocoa and kidney beans as nickel occurs naturally in them.
Kim said: ”The slightest trace of nickel triggers my allergy, anything from knives and forks, watch straps, bra clasps or the clasp on my purse.
”I develop a red, itchy rash on my fingers and hands, like a heat rash, which becomes very painful and blistered.
”At times it’s so bad it spreads up my arm and my fingers go green.
”To help reduce my chances of coming into contact with it I coat everything I can’t help but touch – like metal buttons, zips, my purse, my glasses – in clear nail varnish.
”I have to top it up about once a month and I a set of wooden handled cutlery with me to restaurants or friends’ houses.
”I can’t wear watches because of the metal in the strap, instead I pin a nurse’s watch to my clothes. Nickel is found in so much more than jewellery.”
Kim said her allergy first started around six years ago when she started to react with a ”tingly, sore rash” seemingly at random.
For the next six months the symptoms got steadily worse and Kim visited doctors and allergy specialists in hospital in a bid to discover the source of her mystery ailment.
It was only after a week-long allergy test, in which numerous plasters were left stuck to her back, that specialists realised Kim was extremely allergic to nickel.
As well as rashes and blisters, which experts have warned could leave her with scarring, it can give her skin an unhealthy green tinge.
The rash affects her hands and arms and no one has ever been able to tell her what triggered her condition.
Kim said she always knew if she accidentally came into contact with nickel because her hands and fingers would start to itch.
Doctors recommended steroid creams but unpleasant side effects, including skin-thinning, meant she was reluctant to use them.
Now she has now started using a natural anti-histamine supplement Viridian Quercetin B5, and her symptoms have calmed considerably.
Kim, who lives in Roade, Northants., with her partner Roy Page, 63, a maintenance worker, said: ”I have often wondered where this could have come from.
”Over the years I have got used to it but thanks to this new supplement I now hardly react at all.
”I’m still allergic to nickel but at the very most, and only on the odd occasion, I might get red pin prick marks on my fingers, whereas before they would have been red and sore.
”Luckily I have never reacted to it in food but I am quite a careful eater and never have much chocolate or oats anyway.”
Health consultant and nutritionist Alex Kirchin, director of nutrition at Viridian, said Kim’s allergy was severe he and the cause was difficult to pinpoint.
He said: ”In some people the immune system has a fairly dramatic response to nickel, that seems to be one of the trigger mechanisms.
”But it’s a bit of a mystery really. Kim does sound like a particularly bad case.
”Allergic reactions can be very chronic in some cases and can cause scarring or skin infections if they are not sorted out.”
SOME ITEMS THAT SET KIM’S ALLERGY OFF:
Metal kitchen utensils