Hypoallergenic soaps, lotions and pillows are a necessity for allergy sufferers. Even hypoallergenic eyeglass frames are available on the market. Contact dermatitis -- or irritation of the skin -- is a common problem for eyeglass wearers. If you experience itching or sore spots on your cheeks, nose or temples, you may be having an allergic reaction to your glasses
If you have a sensitivity to inexpensive jewelry or certain types of metal, you may need to wear a hypoallergenic frame. Nickel alloy is a common material in eyeglass frames. Even if a frame looks silver or gold, it could contain nickel, a common allergen. Stainless steel and titanium are also popular materials for frames and do not usually cause allergic reactions. However, some titanium frames contain palladium, which may cause skin problems. For allergy sufferers, finding the right frame material often requires trying a few.
Plastic frames contain a combination of materials, and it may be difficult to determine the exact composition. Most plastic glasses are made of zyl or propionate but contain other materials, such as nylon, carbon, polycarbonate, optyl and polyamide. Optyl, nylon and propionate frame material are usually safe choices if you are sensitive to plastics. Your eye care provider can help determine the material content of plastic frames and find one that is hypoallergenic.
Other sources of allergic reaction in frames are rubber, plasticizers, solvents, dyes and waxes in the frame, according to a 2010 study at the University of California, Davis. Nose pads, the little plastic or silicone pads on certain frames, may irritate or cause an allergic reaction on your nose. Some forms of silicone are hypoallergenic but others may cause allergic reactions. Again, trial and error may be necessary to find a material that does not irritate your skin.
Changing frame material is often the only solution for an allergic reaction. However, there is an inexpensive and easy way to get temporary relief. Paint a thin coat of clear nail polish on any part of the frame that touches your skin, such as the temples, also called "arms," or nose pads of your frame. The polish provides a protective barrier between your skin and the frame, but is only a temporary fix. The polish wears off in a few days but helps until you are able to go to your eye doctor or optician for a permanent solution to your frame allergy. Ask your optician to check your frame material and exchange the frame or nose pads for a hypoallergenic style if you suspect a frame allergy.
Beth Richards, a freelance writer since 2002, writes about health and draws from her 25 years as a licensed dispensing optician. She has authored several books, writes for national magazines including "Country Living" and "Organic Family" and is a health and wellness features writer for several publications. She is earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland.