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Keywords:

  • atopic dermatitis;
  • children;
  • infants;
  • nickel sulphate;
  • patch testing;
  • piercing;
  • reproducibility;
  • sensitization

Background

We have previously reported patch test reactivity to nickel sulphate in a cohort of unselected infants tested repeatedly at 3–18 months of age. A reproducible positive reaction at 12 and 18 months was selected as a sign of nickel sensitivity provided a patch test with an empty Finn chamber was negative. A reproducible positive reaction was seen in 8.6% of the infants. The objective of this study is to follow-up on infants with alleged nickel sensitivity.

Methods

A total of 562 infants were included in the cohort and patch tested with nickel sulphate (ICDRG guidelines). The 26 children with a positive patch test reaction to nickel sulphate at 12 and 18 months were offered repeated patch tests at 3 and 6 yr.

Results

Among the 21 children tested at both 12 months, 18 months and at 3 and 6 yr only 2 of 21 had reproducible nickel reactions (one clinically relevant), 13 of 21 were negative and 6 of 21 were negative at 3 or 6 yr.

Conclusions

Only 9.5% of the children had reproducible nickel sulphate reactivity, while 62% became negative. The results are noteworthy and can be interpreted in different ways: Repeated nickel patch tests did not cause patch test sensitization. The test reactions in infancy are probably of irritant or non-specific nature. Hence, nickel patch tests should only be performed in small children if there is a clinical suspicion of nickel-induced allergic contact dermatitis.