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Why does wearing a ring make fingers green?

We often see that wearing a ring for longer time turns our fingers green. People mistake it for allergy of body towards jewellery. It actually happens due to a chemical reaction between our body and metals in the ring.

Rings are made of metals like copper, silver, etc... These metals react with acids that are produced from our body or with the lotions we apply to our body and give discoloration to the fingers due to the formation of metal oxides. These metal oxides deposit on our skin giving different colors to the finger depending on the kind of metal involved.

Most of the rings contain copper or coatings of copper that gives green color to the finger. Other metals like silver oxidize to form silver oxide which forms a dark brown ring on the finger. These rings are mostly harmless but may cause itchy rash. But if someone is sensitive to metals, the fingers turn red due to inflammation.

The best way to avoid this ring formation is to avoid contact with oxidizing agents like soaps and lotions or by using rings coated with nonreactive metals like rhodium or platinum.

-Hemachandra K,
Research Scholar,
TIFR, Mumbai.
Published date : 11 Mar 2013 12:47PM

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