Will the Apple Watch Give You a Rash?

by James A. Martin on April 20, 2015

in Apple Watch News, Apple Watch Problems

Will wearing an Apple Watch give you wrist rash?

We’ll soon find out, after the first batch of Apple’s smartwatches begin shipping later this week. In the meantime, Apple has posted a ‘Wearing Apple Watch’ page. It details two materials that could potentially cause ‘potential skin sensitivities’—nickel and methacrylates (which sounds like the name of a Greek philosopher).

Apple also specifies where you’ll find these two materials. Nickel exists in “Apple Watch, the space gray Apple Watch Sport, the stainless steel portions of some Apple Watch bands, and the magnets in the watch and bands.” Apple says the amount of nickel falls below “strict” European regulations. (Nickel is often found in stainless steel.)

Also, the “Apple Watch case, the Milanese Loop, the Modern Buckle, and the Leather Loop contain trace amounts of methacrylates from adhesives,” Apple says. “Methacrylates are found in many consumer products that come in contact with the skin, such as adhesive bandages.”

Apple’s ‘wear and care’ page doesn’t mention elastomer material, however, which can cause skin irritation.

The Apple Watch Sport band is made of “custom high-performance fluoroelastomer.” A small percentage of users wearing some fitness trackers have reported wrist rashes, and while the exact cause is sometimes vague, I wonder if it’s the elastomer material (which is basically rubber).

For example, in February there were reports that Fitbit Surge had caused some users to develop rashes. The Surge band is made of “flexible, durable elastomer material” and has a “surgical grade” stainless-steel buckle. But the latter element isn’t likely to cause nickel allergies, according to the Mayo Clinic. To avoid such reactions, the Clinic advises that you “look for jewelry made from such metals as nickel-free stainless steel, surgical-grade stainless steel, titanium, 18-karat yellow gold, or nickel-free 14-karat yellow gold, sterling silver, copper and platinum.”

Apple Watch Sport band materials

Given that the majority of Apple Watch models sold thus far are the less expensive Sport models, it will be interesting to see if, within a few weeks, we’ll be reading about Apple Watch Sport wrist rashes. (Latest estimates, courtesy 9 to 5 Mac: 1.8 million Sport models sold vs 1.2 million Apple Watch devices and 40,000 pricey Editions.)

Worth mentioning: Earlier this month, I developed a wrist rash suddenly after wearing Fitbit Surge for more than two months. I stopped wearing the sports watch for about five days, after which the rash disappeared, though I can still see a vague trace of it.

From now on, I’ll more closely follow Fitbit’s wear and care guidelines—such as washing the watch with Cetaphil and giving my wrist a rest. I’ll also pay attention to Apple’s care and cleaning guidelines.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nick April 20, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Excellent “catch” in noticing Apple did not mention custom high-performance fluoroelastomer on their site. I doubt this was a mistake on their part.


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