Scientists in the US have devised a potential new method of treating nickel allergies using a special type of nanoparticle.
The team at Brigham and Women's Hospital have created a cream containing calcium-based particles measuring billionths of a metre in diameter, which can be applied to the skin of those affected by the common dermatological condition.
These particles will capture the nickel contained in everyday objects such as coins and mobile phones, preventing the material from coming into contact with the skin and causing an itchy rash.
According to researchers, the nanoparticles are unable to penetrate the skin, thus making them safer than other treatment options, while the cream itself can be easily washed off with water.
R Rox Anderson, a dermatologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, said: "Nanoparticles that bind to allergens but do not penetrate the skin offer a new strategy. Big hope in a small package!"
According to Allergy UK, sensitivity to nickel mean that reactions are triggered by items such as wristwatches, zippers and scissors, as well as foods including cabbage, rhubarb, oysters and peanuts.