Contact Dermatitis to Copper

Gopi Rana-mukkavilli, MD

Pain and pruritus of the neck and upper chest began to bother a 43-year-old woman several hours after she put on a new copper necklace. Vigorous scratching of the affected area caused excoriation of the skin, which can mask the eruption and complicate diagnosis.

Pain and pruritus of the neck and upper chest began to bother a 43-year-old woman several hours after she put on a new copper necklace. Vigorous scratching of the affected area caused excoriation of the skin, which can mask the eruption and complicate diagnosis.

Gopi Rana-Mukkavilli, MD of New York City writes that the patient was afebrile; the neutrophil count was normal. An elevated eosinophil count suggested an allergic component to the rash. Contact dermatitis to copper with superficial excoriations was diagnosed.

Oral corticosteroids, a 7-day course of doxycycline, and topical mupirocin were prescribed. The antibiotic agents were used to prevent superficial bacterial infection secondary to the severe scratching. The area cleared completely in a month. The patient was warned not to wear copper jewelry in the future.