You've said "I do," had the perfect honeymoon, and are finally getting used to being addressed as "Mrs." But while married life is fulfilling, there's something irritating you. No, it's not your husband (at least, not yet!). The problem? Your wedding band. That beautiful ring signifying your eternal bond with your spouse is causing soreness, redness and itchiness, and you want it off. How can you soothe your inflamed finger while reassuring your husband that you're as devoted to him as ever?

First, understand why this kind of irritation, known as wedding-ring dermatitis, occurs. It's possible that there are metals in your ring to which you have an allergy. Nickel, widely used in jewelry, is a common allergen. While wedding rings tend to be made out of finer metals such as gold or sterling silver, they may contain small amounts of nickel and other base metals that cause problems. But even rings that are pure gold may irritate simply because of their position on the skin. Chances are your wedding ring is tighter than your other rings so it stays put on your finger. It may also be wider than any other rings you've worn. This makes it easy for debris such as soap or dirt to get caught under the ring, causing redness and soreness. Fortunately, the problem can often be resolved with the following steps:

Rinse your fingers. We're so caught up in washing our hands frequently that sometimes we forget to rinse them well. Remove your ring, place it safely away from the sink, and rinse your fingers thoroughly, including the skin between them. Then, holding your ring carefully, rinse the smooth underside of the ring to get rid of anything stuck there.

Give it a rest. Give your ring finger a rest by removing your wedding ring overnight. This lets the skin breathe and heal. You can even keep it off for a few days for the best results. It won't kill your marriage.

Use cream. Hydrocortisone cream rubbed into the irritated area can work wonders, as can anti-itch remedies.

Moisturize your hands. Keeping your fingers hydrated means the skin is in better condition and less likely to break down when faced with irritants. The moisturizer also provides a barrier against debris that may wash against your fingers.

Wear gloves. It sounds so simple, but wearing gloves when you wash dishes or do housework really can prevent wedding-ring dermatitis. If you don't let your ring finger get wet and soapy, you're less likely to have an outbreak.


Source: The Doctors Book of Home Remedies, Rodale Books, 1990.