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Dermatitis means an inflammation of the skin. Dermatitis can have many causes and occurs in many forms. It usually involves an itchy rash on swollen, reddened skin.
The term 'contact dermatitis' is used when the skin inflammation is caused by contact with something in its immediate environment. There are two types of contact dermatitis - Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) and Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD).
When a specific substance on repeated and prolonged contact sensitizes the immune system and triggers an allergic response, this causes a local inflammation which is termed Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD) commonly known as 'skin allergy' and the substance is then called an allergen. The immune system is a host defence system comprising many biological structures, organs and processes of the body that provide the resistance to infection and toxins and protects us against disease. Organs include thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.
If an inflammation of the skin is caused by its exposure to metal allergens (e.g. Nickel, cobalt etc.), then it is termed as 'Metal Induced Allergic Contact Dermatitis' (MACD). If you avoid the offending metal allergens, the skin inflammation should go away.
Certain substances such as detergents, soaps, cleaners, chemicals even hard water with chlorine etc., have the ability to irritate or traumatise the skin when they are in its direct contact. These substances can strip off skins natural oils and remove its surface protective layer when they are in contact with skin long enough. This can lead to skin damage which causes irritation /inflammation and it is termed as Irritant Contact Dermatitis (ICD). One can develop irritant contact dermatitis quickly from a single exposure to a strong irritant. Weaker irritants will require repeated exposure. It most commonly affects the hands. Irritant contact dermatitis is often considered the first step toward allergic contact dermatitis. No clinical signs and symptoms can unambiguously discriminate between ACD and ICD. Differentiation between two is not always straightforward.
Approximately 20% of European population have dermatitis. 15% of people in EU have 'Metal Induced Allergic Contact Dermatitis' (MACD) commonly known as 'Skin Allergy' due to metal contact.
Nickel, cobalt and chromium are the top three metal allergens. These metals occur in many types of products - for example, jewellery, watches, eyewear, studs in jeans and other clothes, bra straps, etc. and they are difficult to avoid.
Besides nickel, cobalt and chromium, there are a number of other metals that are a growing concern amongst dermatologists for their capability to act as allergens under certain circumstances.
MACD has a non-reversible effect; this means once allergic you are likely to continue to be allergic throughout life. Its psychological and financial impact on society is very high. The impact on business could also be high with reputational damage and consequences such as:
i. disrupt business,
ii. negative press,
iii. damage to brand image,
iv. loss of consumer trust,
v. huge on costs: managing the failure, recalling the product, legal settlements, extra testing, loss of sales. If it goes wrong - it will be made public.
Some individuals react to a very low concentration of metal allergens. The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the substance that one is allergic to, although this isn't always easy or practical.
Various european survey results suggests that earrings are the leading cause of metal induced allergic contact dermatitis, followed by other jewellery, buttons on clothing, wrist watches, belt buckles and zips etc. Nickel, chromium, cobalt are the top allergens but certain other metals such as gold, palladium, manganese, copper etc. are now of growing concern to dermatologists due to their potential to cause allergic reaction to human skin. In spite of regulation, young population still become sensitised to nickel.
Whilst the science of nickel sensitisation is well-established and widely understood, the science of other metal(s) induced allergic contact dermatitis is not. The research and development team are addressing this with the development of AnchorCert Protect.
By using this unique product testing method, the manufacturer can adapt the manufacturing process to ensure that the levels of materials used are carefully measured so as not to cause an allergic reaction, even if you already suffer with skin allergies.
Ultimately, this means complete freedom from metal allergies for the majority of people. No other testing standard offers this distinction.
Section 1 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 prohibits the use of false claims in relation to goods. Section 3 of the same Act extends and defines this prohibition. Thus, a false trade description "is a trade description which is false to a material degree" and "a trade description which, though not false, is misleading... shall be deemed to be a false description".
The Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Trading Standards (LACOTS) are of the view that data should be collected before making any such claims. This advice highlights the risks associated with absolute claims given the variabilities involved. Instead, and in the absence of recognized definition, LACOTS recommends following approach to make an absolute claim about allergy:
a. identifies where every effort has been made to reduce allergenic potential;
b. does not state or imply that all allergy suffers will benefit where this is not the case; and
c. can be supported by appropriate data.
Keeping the spirit of above recommendation of LACOTS in view we can state that to date we have collated the test data for thousands of items, verified our findings both by human evidence which includes positive patch testing data from various sources, customer trial, experimental studies and by applying scientific logics and also inhouse laboratory experiments as appropriate and believe that we can substantiate in a court of law the accuracy of the new test with regard to meeting the stated claim made in respect to our AnchorCert Protect methodology.
The AnchorCert Protect methodology has been researched "to protect the majority, but not all, of those sensitised" but it can prevent a considerably large population of non-sensitised individuals from becoming allergic to metal allergens. A very small part of the population is hypersensitive to certain metals, their skin is hyper-reactive to even considerably low risk metals and cause varying degree of harshness that are well tolerated by normal skin. Characteristics of the people reporting hypersensitivity to even low risk metal allergens are generally different from those of people reporting being allergic to everyday metals. These hypersensitive individuals react to extremely lower concentrations of those metals on the skin contact. Prevention of elicitation in these individuals is important and to be done on a case-by-case basis. We anticipate that a large population of above category will be protected by the AnchorCert Protect approach, but we do not wish to make any absolute claims given the variabilities involved.
i. Jewellery, body piercings and accessories,
ii. Metal embellishments on clothing,
iii. Metal finishing components, including zips, poppers, clasps, buttons,
iv. Decorative parts of garments, other buttons, clothing hooks (such as bra hooks), pins, hair slides, hairgrips, hair clasps, pendants, toe rings,
v. Wrist-watch cases, watch straps, activity trackers, their straps and tighteners
vi. All type of eyewear's
vii. Belts and belt buckles
Hypoallergenic - this term is most frequently used on product labels. There are no metals which can be considered allergically safe in the true sense. Hypoallergenic, when used in context to skin, means "below normal" or "slightly" allergenic to skin. This is no guarantee that the product is safe to the skin.
A reference search made by us has failed to reveal either a legal or accepted dictionary definition of this term and consultation with representative trade bodies has shown there to be differences in industry understanding and usage. However, the broad consensus is that the term means:
a. that the allergenic potential of the product has been identified and minimised;
b. that the product in question is less allergenic than other similar products available for sale; and
c. that these benefits can be evidenced by product testing or formulation.
A product will carry the AnchorCert Protect logo if it has been tested to the AnchorCert Protect Standard but you can also request information from the retailer/manufacturer. A list of retailers who stock AnchorCert Protect certified items will shortly be available on our website.