Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between piercing and patch test sensitivity to metals (nickel, cobalt, and chromium) in North America. Methods: A retrospective analysis of 9334 patients tested by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group from 2007 to 2010 was conducted. Results: Nickel sensitivity was statistically associated with at least 1 piercing (risk ratio [RR], 2.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.26-2.81; P < 0.0001) and nickel sensitivity rates increased with the number of piercings (16% for 1 piercing to 32% for ≥5 piercings). Prevalence of nickel sensitivity was higher in females (23.2%) than in males (7.1%), but the association with piercing was stronger in males (RR, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.72-3.30; P < 0.0001) than in females (RR, 1.30; CI, 1.13-1.49; P = 0.0002). Crude analysis indicated that cobalt sensitivity was statistically associated with piercing (RR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.40-1.91; P < 0.0001); however, stratified analysis showed that this relationship was confounded by nickel. After adjusting for nickel sensitivity, the adjusted risk ratio for piercing and cobalt was 0.78 (not significant). Chromium sensitivity was negatively associated with piercing (RR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.48-0.75; P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Piercing was statistically associated with sensitivity to nickel. This relationship was dose dependent and stronger in males. Cobalt sensitivity was not associated with piercing when adjusted for nickel. Chromium sensitivity was negatively associated with piercing.
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