Have you ever noticed red and itchy skin, maybe even watery blisters, after taking a piece of jewelry off? This reaction is also known as a cutaneous response to nickel. This issue may only be skin-deep, which requires no cause for concern or investigation. If you also experience severe IBS symptoms, then this could suggest a nickel-related food sensitivity.

IBS symptoms include abdominal discomfort, constipation, and diarrhea. A negative response to nickel may cause an IBS flare. Furthermore, the most prominent symptom is diarrhea with nickel sensitivity. Nickel related IBS is uncommon and not our first diagnosis with patients. However, if you have yet to find the reason for your digestive discomfort, you should talk to your doctor about taking a nickel-allergy test.

Internal vs. External

It’s essential to know the difference between an internal nickel-allergy and a cutaneous nickel-allergy. For instance, jewelry and clothing buttons cause a surface-level reaction. Alternatively, certain foods cause an internal response. These two are not always present together or indicative of the other. Nickel-rich foods can directly relate to digestive disruption and IBS. Foods that we consider high nickel foods are almonds, chickpeas, cocoa, lentils, oats, peanuts, and walnuts. Similarly, foods that we consider /€œmoderate nickel foods are artichoke, asparagus, green beans, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, plums, spinach, tomatoes, mussels, and oysters, yeast, margarine, and potatoes. If these are trigger foods for you, then consider getting a test.

Research

In 2017, the Journal for Neuro-Gastroenterology Motility did a comprehensive study on nickel-allergy related IBS[1]. Their findings suggest that people see a significant improvement in symptoms with the elimination of high and moderate nickel foods. A few of the symptoms tested include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. After three months, the test-patients claimed to feel significant relief.

Results

In conclusion, diet changes can result in a life free of distressing and unwanted symptoms. IBS patients may follow the FODMAP diet to manage discomfort and improve wellbeing with nickel sensitivity. Many high-nickel foods are also considered high FODMAP. Conveniently, the two diets resemble one another and can work together to aid IBS and nickel related IBS.

If this information resonates with you, then we advise you to talk to your doctor about getting tested for a nickel-allergy.

Di Gioacchino M, Ricciardi L, De Pità O, Minelli M, Patella V, Voltolini S, Di Rienzo V, Braga M, Ballone E, Mangifesta R, Schiavino D. Nickel oral hyposensitization in patients with systemic nickel allergy syndrome. Ann Med. 2014 Feb;46(1):31-7. doi: 10.3109/07853890.2013.861158. Epub 2013 Nov 21. PMID: 24256166; PMCID: PMC4673509.

[1] Rizzi, Angela, et al. /€œIrritable Bowel Syndrome and Nickel Allergy: What Is the Role of the Low Nickel Diet? Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Korean Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 30 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5216640/.