Amber necklaces: reasons for use and awareness of risk associated with bacterial colonisation

Eur J Dermatol. 2016 Dec 1;26(6):580-585. doi: 10.1684/ejd.2016.2871.


Parents are increasingly placing amber necklaces on their infants or toddlers to prevent teething pain. The use of the necklaces can pose a risk of death by strangulation, however, there are no data on the potential infectious risk linked to bacterial colonisation associated with the necklaces. We aimed to analyse bacterial colonisation of amber necklaces worn by children during hospital consultations. This prospective observational study included all children wearing a teething necklace at consultation in the Paediatric Dermatology and the Paediatric Emergency Department of our hospital from April to December 2014. The study included 27 children (median age: 10.7 months; 70.4% female). The surface of necklaces underwent bacteriological analyses using three different agar cultures. Parents completed a brief questionnaire to provide reasons for using necklaces and express awareness of risks. One child had a history of impetigo. All necklaces were colonised by bacteria (median: four species per necklace [range: 1-9]); 32 different species were found, the most frequent being coagulase-negative staphylococci (Staphylococcus epidermidis in 88.9% of cases). In three cases, methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus was found. The most frequent reason for wearing a necklace was to prevent teething pain (n = 17; 63.0%); the necklace was judged effective (moderately/highly effective) in 74.1% of cases, however, 70.4% of parents considered the use of the necklace to be risky. Amber necklaces may be highly colonised by commensal germs of the skin, mainly coagulase-negative staphylococci. Although these bacteria are saprophytes, they may become pathogenic in particular conditions.

Keywords: Staphylococcus; bacterial colonisation; infants; necklace; teething.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Amber* / adverse effects
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Female
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Jewelry / adverse effects
  • Jewelry / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Staphylococcus / isolation & purification*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / isolation & purification
  • Staphylococcus hominis / isolation & purification
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tooth Eruption


  • Amber