why does gold make my skin turn black

Gold is a soft, inert, elementary metal. This means it rarely reacts with other elements or living tissue. However, it can still happen. Gold used for jewelry is not pure. Pure gold is so soft that one could mold it like clay in one's hands. As a result, base metals are often mixed with gold when it is used for jewelry in order to harden it. The degree of gold's purity is determined by karats. Essentially, a karat is a fraction, divided up into 24ths. For example, a 10-karat gold ring is 10/24 gold, the rest being made up of base metals. Jewelry made from 14-karat gold is as close to pure as functionally possible, though some decorative pieces not meant to be worn are even more pure. If gold in excess of 14 karats causes black or dark green marks on the skin, there is only one reason: an iron deficiency. If a person has an iron deficiency, the hemoglobin in the blood is less able to carry oxygen. Iron is not all that dissimilar from gold, chemically speaking. If a person with an iron deficiency wears gold consistently, a black or dark green mark will form over the area where the gold touches the skin. The process by which this happens is not fully explained, but it's theorized that the hemoglobin in the blood migrates toward the gold, causing bursting of minor blood vessels in the affected skin, creating a black or dark green bruise-like color.


In gold lower than 14 karats, a common metal included in the mix is nickel. It's easily worked and helps the gold to retain its shape. However, it is more chemically active than gold is. If nickel from a piece of gold comes into contact with foundation makeup, it will create a black mark where it touched. Also, many people have a mild allergy to nickel, creating a dark, bruise-like rash over the affected area of the skin. Copper is another common metal included in impure gold. It is not chemically active, but it does oxidize easily. If a piece of gold jewelry is worn consistently in hot, wet or sweaty conditions, the copper in it will begin to oxidize or corrode. This results in a dark green stain on the skin.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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