Nickel is used in coins because the metal has beneficial properties, including price, colour, weight, and corrosion resistance, and also because it is easy to stamp. It has often been claimed that the duration of skin contact with coins is too short to cause nickel release and dermatitis. However, it is well known by dermatologists specialized in occupational skin diseases, and by their nickel-allergic patients, that hand eczema in cashiers and other professionals who handle coins may be caused or aggravated by nickel release from coins. In this review, we present evidence from past studies showing that nickel-containing coins can indeed pose a risk for those who handle them. For protection of the health of consumers, cashiers, and other workers who handle coins, it is suggested that coins without nickel release should be used as a substitute for the high nickel-releasing coins currently in widespread use. The key risk factor in this situation is the ability of metal alloys in coins to release nickel and contaminate the skin after repeated contact from coin handling.
Contact Dermatitis, 2012, Vol 68, Issue 1, p. 3-14