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Metal and Armour

Posted April 18th 2017

Plate armour was historically worn in Europe during the late middle ages. Inspired by the Greeks and Romans, who both used partial armour plates to protect important areas such as their chest, it began to be used widely from the 13th century onwards.

A full set of armour was incredibly complex, consisting of many different parts, and good sets were highly prized. Steel was the main material used, and each individual piece would be shaped and hammered out by hand before being polished to a high shine and often finished with intricate detailing. A typical set of armour could weigh between 15-25kg but a good smith would ensure this was spread throughout the body to enable the wearer to be able to move freely.

Elaborately decorated armour was common for royalty, often called parade armour, and could include fine embossing in different colours. Particularly fine sets would be immortalised in paintings or even kept on show for visitors, such as the Line of Kings at the Tower of London which displays an impressive array of royal armour in the world’s longest running visitor attraction.

Jousting armour was another type, and this was usually substantially heavier than a typical set of plate armour to withstand the heavy blows it was expected to encounter. As the wearer was seated on a horse, there was also less need for free movement, although it still needed to be light enough to be carried by the horse.

As weapons developed and firearms became more commonly used, traditional plate armour became useless for the most part. Modern body armour is now usually made from synthetic fibres, replacing the traditional steel plates. Ballistic vest are usually made from Kevlar since its introduction in the 1970s, although sometimes trauma plates may also be used made of steel or titanium.

Are you allergic to Nickel?

Posted April 5th 2017

Nickel is one of the most commonly used metals in the world, found in everything from currency to house keys. It is also one of the most common allergies with around 10-12% of the world’s population suspected to be affected by this. So what are the signs, and how do you know if this includes you?

Although nickel is found in many everyday items, a reaction can still occur if you have handled nickel before and been fine. A reaction usually appears in the form of a rash wherever the skin has been in contact with nickel, which may take a couple of weeks to subside depending on the severity of the reaction. Common items that can cause a reaction include jewellery, keys, money, watches, belt buckles, clothing fasteners such as zips or buttons, laptops, tablets, phones and even e-cigarettes. Once a reaction has occurred it is likely this will happen again every time the skin comes into contact with the item.

Medical professionals are unsure what it is about nickel that causes this reaction in such a high percentage of people, although some have expressed the opinion that sensitivity to the metal could be genetically inherited, at least in part. Constant exposure to nickel is likely to bring on a reaction, especially if it is close to the skin and you are sweating. This most commonly happens with jewellery but could also happen if you have money or keys in your pocket, or metal parts on your clothes.

A nickel allergy can be simply diagnosed by the doctor by examining the skin, or sending you for a patch test, which involves small amounts of particular allergens being applied to the skin. These areas are then examined for a reaction. There are several creams that can be used to treat a reaction, but the most effective way is to take proper precautions and avoid prolonged contact with items that you know will affect your skin. As nickel is used so prevalently it is pretty much impossible to avoid it altogether but if you are careful you can reduce the risk of a reaction. Handle keys and money as little as possible, taking them out of your pockets and keeping them safely in a bag or purse. Try not to wear jewellery that contains nickel, or ensure it has a very low content, and be careful of the metal parts on your clothes. Different people will have different triggers so it is important to recognise what works for you and what you should avoid.

Nickel Allgery