Why Does My Jewelry Turn My Skin Black?

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If you have ever taken off a piece of jewelry, like your wedding or engagement ring, and noticed that the jewelry left a dark mark--typically green or black--on your skin, you may have wondered why. Some are quick to label the jewelry as inferior or cheap; however, jewelry of all types can cause skin blackening.

Why Does My Jewelry Turn My Skin Black?
(Jessica Isaac/Demand Media)

Skin darkening or blackening due to jewelry may appear alarming or look unhealthy; however, it typically indicates a relatively benign chemical reaction occurring within the jewelry. If you are especially concerned, contact your physician.

Jessica Isaac/Demand Media

Skin blackening from jewelry is typical due to nickel allergies, electrolysis or metal abrasion. Nickel allergies are the primary cause. The metal strengthens other precious metals which may not be as resilient, like gold. The body's electrical currents can cause electrolysis, or metal corrosion, with some metals, especially copper. Typically, a green ring around your finger indicates your jewelry contains copper. Its outer coating has perhaps worn down, causing this reaction.

Metallic abrasion occurs when jewelry is worn with makeup. Nice Ice describes compounds in some cosmetics which contain tiny, harsh particles that look like jet black dust. These particles form black smudge upon contact with something absorbent like skin or clothing.

Jessica Isaac/Demand Media

If you are experiencing an allergic reaction to nickel in your jewelry, your skin will burn or itch along with the darkening. Electrolysis will make your skin look darker and possibly green, especially with copper. The addition of other metallic elements in your jewelry can cause the mark to appear more black or silver.

Jessica Isaac/Demand Media

Some factors can increase the frequency or degree of skin darkening. Perspiration can promote the erosion of metals like copper. Skin blackening may be more common when participating in vigorous exercise or living in a humid environment. Environments containing bromine or chlorine, like a pool or hot tub, can also increase electrolysis in jewelry.

Jessica Isaac/Demand Media

Frequent jewelry cleaning can help slow electrolysis. Also, remove jewelry when applying makeup. Before replacing the jewelry, thoroughly wash skin that has come into contact with makeup, recommends Nice Ice. If you live in a humid environment or perspire heavily, consider wearing moisture-absorbing powder on your fingers, wrist, neck or wherever else you wear jewelry. Always thoroughly dry your hands after washing. Some people take off their jewelry before washing hands, swimming and other activities.

Jessica Isaac/Demand Media

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