How to Get Rid of Wedding Ring Rash (and What Causes It)

You've been rocking that ring for awhile, so why is your skin suddenly freaking out now?

Updated 10/30/19

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If you've developed a red, bumpy, itchy rash under your wedding band, chances are you have wedding ring rash. The good news is that it's common and curable. Ring rash most often occurs due to a nickel allergy or bacteria buildup on the ring. Read on to find out how do you get rid of wedding ring rash and heal your skin.

Nickel Allergy

Gold and white gold bands can contain trace amounts of nickel. A nickel allergy can develop at any point in life, so even if you weren't allergic when you first started wearing the ring, it's entirely possible that you now are, and that's the cause of your wedding ring rash (aka wedding ring dermatitis). Or, you might have had the allergy all along, but the nickel salts present in the metal are only now starting to come into contact with your skin as the metal begins to erode (water and sweat will speed up this process). This process happens no matter how expensive your ring is.

Fortunately, there are solutions that don't involve replacing the band. You can have a jeweler coat the band with rhodium, which forms a barrier between your skin and the nickel. You can also apply clear nail polish as a temporary fix.

Bacteria Buildup

Soaps, lotions, and even dead skin can get stuck and caked on underneath and in the crevasses of stone settings, explains jewelry maker Andreas Argentinis of Metal Pressions. "Combine that dirt with a little moisture and you have a great environment for bacteria to grow that could potentially irritate your skin."

A good cleaning will often solve the problem, though. "If you have a valuable or complex ring, you might consider taking it to a local jeweler for cleaning to avoid damaging the settings or stones." Otherwise, dermatologist and founder of Dr. Bailey Skin Care, Cynthia Bailey, M.D., recommends using a jewelry cleaning solution, being careful to brush under stones where soap residue can become trapped and harden.

Irritation From Moisture and Soap

It might be your soap, rather than the ring itself, that is causing the ring rash. Instead of washing with a detergent, deodorant, or sudsy soap, board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman suggests switching to a mild soap. She also advises taking off your ring when you wash your hands so no bacteria or traces of soap get caught up in it. "Remember to dry your skin thoroughly after you finish washing as well," she says.

Whatever the cause of your wedding ring rash, it's also a good idea to apply hypoallergenic hand cream. Bailey says people with really sensitive skin may need to follow up with extra moisture to heal their wedding ring dermatitis. "This is especially true when your hands are in and out of water all day," she warns. "Get in the habit of applying a good, nongreasy, hypoallergenic hand cream after washing." You can also use a lotion that contains ceramides, as this will protect and moisturize skin, adds Dr. Purvisha Patel, owner and dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Associates.

If your rash persists or turns into large blisters or welts, definitely see your doctor or dermatologist immediately.

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