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Thread: Stainless steel allergy question
02-01-2011, 05:26 PM #1
- Join Date
- Nov 2010
Stainless steel allergy question
My wife is allergic to stainless steel, so she gets real bad burning during shaving and after shaving. She is currently using a venus cartridge and has also tried a mach 3, same results from both. I was wondering if anyone has experienced this and has a suggestion on what she might use to lessen this. I was thinking a carbon steel DE, but wasn't sure if this would do any better. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated, thanks.
02-01-2011, 06:54 PM #2
- Join Date
- May 2005
- Amarillo, Texas
By Mayo Clinic staff
Nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis — an itchy rash that appears when your skin touches a usually harmless substance.
Nickel allergy is commonly associated with earrings and other jewelry for body piercings. But nickel can be found in many everyday items — from coins to necklace clasps, from watchbands to eyeglass frames.
Nickel allergy can affect people of all ages. A nickel allergy usually develops after repeated or prolonged exposure to items containing nickel. Treatments can reduce the symptoms of nickel allergy. Once you develop nickel allergy, however, you will always be sensitive to the metal and should avoid contact.
02-01-2011, 06:58 PM #3
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- Sep 2009
- SE Oklahoma/NE Texas
- Blog Entries
To my knowledge, stainless is hypoallergenic. May I first suggest changing the shave soap/cream.Northeastern Texas & Southeastern Oklahoma Mentor/Helper...PM me if I can assist you.
02-01-2011, 07:26 PM #4
Redrover is correct, what she is allergic to is nickel in the stainless steel. All stainless steels that I know of contain nickel, those that are used to hold a good edge contain slightly less.
But, I don't believe the stainless to be your wife's problem. Allergic contact dermatitis does take time to form even for a person with an extreme allergy to nickel. What she may be experiencing is an extreme form of pseudodermaticulitis barbae which could be exacerbated by a nickel allergy. Basically it is an extra irritated form of razor burn (hehe big words). One way to test this is to take a higher nickel form of stainless like what is used in standard tableware and very gently rub her skin over a dry spot for just a second. If that area becomes irritated by this it is the nickel allergy, if not then it is the razor she is using or the technique involved. I have an extreme nickel allergy as does my mother. Within minutes of eating with stainless tableware her mouth has irritation and her hands become itchy any prolonged exposure and her skin cracks.
I still think that a DE could help her greatly as could some instruction regarding proper use including preparation and aftercare. There are some great women on this forum including CarrieM and Silver who have helped my wife through her own shaving adventures. If you want my wife is a member here as well under the username nanna, she is always willing to help (and she loves it when I volunteer her).
As shooter said as well look for other aspects of her shave that could cause irritation. One thing I see a lot is people saying that they have always used product X, well that can be the problem. Allergies can form from prolonged exposure. Another aspect of shaving that could cause similar results is if she has used any form of scrubs or peels on her skin before, even within 48 hours, this time of year our skin has trouble anyway and any exfoliation can irritate this.
Last edited by deighaingeal; 02-01-2011 at 07:30 PM. Reason: forgot something
02-01-2011, 11:57 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2011
- BC's Sunshine Coast - Canada
My I suggest that she put a lotion on her legs prior to shaving in order to give the skin some protection from the blade? And as someone who had no end of irritation from shaving get her to try a DE.... my skin has never been happier...
02-02-2011, 03:21 AM #6
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- Oct 2006
MatWeb - The Online Materials Information Resource
All of the most likely strip steels manufactured by either Sandvik or Uddeholm for razor strip steel do not contain nickel. This despite one single reference to 410S ferritic stainless having nearly 0.6% nickel this is not supported by other more current references. Wikipedia is not as accurate as the technical steel references available elsewhere. I also perused a few of the Chinese and Indian sites selling stainless strip steel for razors and their chemistries are nearly identical to the Scandinavian steel mills recipes.
http://www.uddeholm.com.ar/files/razor_blade_steel.pdf this is considered very similar to 440B.
This link develops this further. DEWEY Knives
420 steel is essentially the same as 12C27 nomenclature of the Sandvik steels, another of the razor strip steels discussed on Matweb. The numbers for these steels have been reported out to the curious on a Yahoo thread about straight razors by the Dovo company, specifically 4034 (440C) and 4125 (420) that they use in several of their models of stainless steel blades. Dovo has a good reputation and other razor companies will not stray far from a successful product.
Now the Austenitic 300 series is simply festering with nickel alloys. But those are not good steels for razor blades.
I will disclaim any further expertise. I have made comments in the past that stainless steels are lifeless and sterile as blades, temperamental in the heat treatment and require more trouble than they are worth compared to simple carbon steels, and I do not use them. My advice is wholly biased.
Last edited by Mike Blue; 02-02-2011 at 05:03 AM. Reason: additions
02-02-2011, 05:00 AM #7
- Join Date
- Oct 2006
Nickel sensitivity should result in a visible lesion or skin breakdown due to the type of reaction occurring in the skin. This condition is called pomphylox and can take the form of eczema. There are gradations in this so not everyone has the same reaction. Conditions like this may occur rapidly in exquisitely sensitive individuals, but usually the first exposure has no reaction at all. It simply takes time for the immune system to develop the reactive components of future irritations. Others may take years to develop similar symptoms.
The dental industry has a lot of articles about this problem. They are also likely to use high nickel content stainless alloys, or they were until they became aware this could be a problem. Generally those alloys most highly reactive in human beings contained at least 50% nickel. Plus you're talking about intimate exposure for a long time with a dental implant, in a chemical bath that is designed to corrode things, like food. Needless to say, product liability will rapidly change product composition to exclude nickel risk if there were any possible contact with a reactive human being.
But, it is also well established that some people who have plain old eczema problems with their skin may be reacting to the nickel present in all foods to some degree. So it may be that you can't avoid nickel no matter what you do.
The traditional test is the patch test. This requires something much like a bandaid with the pad soaked in a specific known concentration of a nickel allergen applied to the skin for up to two days. Shaving the skin will not produce the same duration of contact as a patch test would require to prove that the razor was the cause of the allergic reaction. Long term metal against skin is required. The best case I ever had was caused by the metal button on the fly of some jeans. This person looked like they had been burned with a blow torch the skin was so broken down. And that is not an uncommon form of the reaction, some kind of sore eroded skin.
Her cure, by the way, was to paint the back of the button with nail polish. That kept the button from contacting her skin. When the laquer/enamel wore off her symptoms returned and she applied more paint. Simple. She wouldn't give up her fashion jeans.
First questions about any skin reaction will include any new soaps, creams, perfumes, dyes, foods, medications, sun exposure on medications, fabric softeners, detergents and suchlike. Those causes need to be eliminated as well.
Shaving is a mechanical irritation of the skin. I like the advice about prepping the skin both pre and post shave. Maybe consider not shaving as often and allow the skin to recover. You might be exfoliating as well as removing hair. Getting down far enough you'd remove some of the basic protection afforded by the outer layers. That exposed skin will dry out faster and be subject to greater irritation.
A lesser known fact is that nickel is the heaviest element produced by our sun in the solar wind. Right after iron. We are all subject to a constantly renewing source of nickel in our sunshine. You might run but you can't hide.
Two more pence anyway.
02-03-2011, 03:26 PM #8
- Join Date
- Apr 2007
- St. Paul, MN, USA
Aha! I now have a greater understanding of the wisdom in the often tossed, "penny for your thoughts." Even with inflation, upping the ante to a nickel could be grounds for a suit from the litigious and rashes from the sensitive.
See you next week.
02-18-2011, 08:21 PM #9
Try a carbon steel blade
Sorry to hear about this problem! My recommendation is to go with a simple tool steel blade such as one made from 01, 1085, or 1095. Simple tool steels have none of the nickel or chromium elements of stainless steel and she should be able to tolerate them better but do test to make sure!