best earrings for sensitive ears?

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Original Post

I have a friend who has developed a sensitivity to wearing earrings, and she's asked me for help. I had a few ideas but also told her I'd ask you folks, since y'all know so much!

I know that nickel is a big no-no for sensitivities. I'd guess any base metal sort of ear wire or post is right out. I personally use sterling silver as an alternative. Is that good enough?

I've also seen something (in a nail polish like bottle with a brush) that can be painted on the jewelry itself and is supposed to provide a barrier. Does that actually work?

Should she just stick to gold? What about gold filled?

What would be the *most* "gentle" type of earrings for sensitive ears?

Thanks for any info and help! Much appreciated!

Posted at 10:24am Oct 2, 2009 EDT


I'll be keeping an eye on this thread. My ears are so sensitive that I can't wear ANY earrings. Even gold and sterling make me itch like crazy.

Posted at 10:25am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

I have a friend who hadn't worn any earrings for 8 years, until recently when I made her a pair to try with Thai Silver earwires, which are 99% pure silver, and she's had no problems... in fact, I've made her several pair and now she wears them all the time.

Previously, she couldn't wear sterling or even gold... she'd break out in a rash almost immediately. I'm assuming it's the copper content that she was allergic to.

Posted at 10:38am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

patcreates says

Is there still surgical steel available? I remember always having to get earrings with "surgical steel posts", for my sensitive ears.

Posted at 10:38am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

surgical steel is good for lots of folks but not all
some can only wear niobium or 14K gold or 99% silver, and sterling (92.5%) is fine for others
can be very individual

Posted at 10:42am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

I have grown out of the sensitivity I used to have when I was younger, but I can tell you that I couldn't wear posts until I was out of junior high and even then they had to be at least 18k gold. And larger earrings will always react more than small little studs.

Prior to that, I could wear surgical steel if they were the fish hook dangles. If you have gold plated fish hook wires, that can help a lot too. But in my personal experience you are right in thinking that gold is the best for sensitive ears because it is not chemically reactive to oxygen, water, or oil.

Best of luck hooking your friend up with some bling :D

Posted at 10:46am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

I always keep gold and silver-plated surgical steel wires on hand, so I can usually switch them out for those with sensitive ears, who can't or don't want to pay the higher price for sterling or gold-filled.

Posted at 11:21am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

A lot of it is trial and error. :( If you know you can't wear gold, shy away from it. Just try out different suggestions above (surgical steel, sterling silver, 'hypo-allergenic', etc.)

Posted at 11:28am Oct 2, 2009 EDT

obtp says

My ears are also sensitive, but I am fine with 925 sterling.

Sometimes if your not used to wearing earrings on a regular basis the gauge of the wire (if it's to thick) is what can be irritating. I've heard of rubbing neosporin on the wires before wearing helps.

Posted at 1:35pm Oct 2, 2009 EDT

Nobium is supposed to be hypoallergenic.
And surgical steel.
And Gold, but stick to yellow gold, since rose & white golds are alloyed with metals that might cause a reaction.

Most metal allergies are to copper & nickel. Copper alloyed in brass & silver, so pure 99 silver is usually OK. Nickel is in many plated inexpensive items, sometimes identified as "silver", for ex "German Silver."

Posted at 1:55pm Oct 2, 2009 EDT