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What’s Causing It and What You Can Do

What’s Causing It and What You Can Do

Key Takeaways

  • Wearing an Apple watch can potentially cause irritation, appearing as red dots or patches inside or outside of the wrist.
  • Experts say several factors could cause an Apple watch rash, including wearing the device too tightly, sweat and bacteria build-up, or allergies to certain metals. 
  • If you experience a rash from your Apple watch, experts recommend removing the watch, cleaning the affected area with mild soap and water, and avoiding wearing the device until the rash gets better.

Whether you’re rocking the sleek Ultra 2 or the stylish Series 9, a bout of skin irritation is probably not part of the Apple Watch look you’re going for.

But it happens, dermatologists tell Verywell.

If you experience a rash from your Apple Watch, here’s what to know about what might be causing it and things you can do to prevent it from happening again.

How Common Is Skin Irritation From an Apple Watch? 

Although it’s possible to experience irritation or a rash on the wrist from wearing an Apple Watch and other similar devices, it’s not extremely common, Ali Shahbaz, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas, told Verywell in an email. 

“In my practice, I do encounter patients who present with such symptoms, although it’s not among the most frequent complaints,” he said.

Certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing irritation or a rash from their Apple Watch device, Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, a board-certified dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell in an email. These include people with compromised or sensitive skin, such as those with eczema or psoriasis, very dry skin, or individuals who sweat excessively.

What Does an Apple Watch Rash Look Like?

The appearance of a rash caused by wearing an Apple Watch may vary in appearance, but typically presents as redness, itching, or irritation on the skin in the area where the watch is worn, Shahbaz said.

He added it may also look like “red dots or patches, either on the inside or outside of the wrist.”

If irritation is to blame for your rash—whether from the band or the watch itself—it will probably look like clustered pinkish-red bumps on lighter skin tones and purplish-brown bumps on darker skin tones, Lipner said.

If you’re experiencing an allergic reaction to the watch, your rash might take on the shape of the item responsible.

“For someone with a metal allergy, the [Apple Watch] rash would be rectangular,” Lipner said.

What Could Be Causing an Apple Watch Rash? 

Several factors could contribute to an Apple Watch rash, including wearing the watch too tightly.

“Tight-fitting watches can trap sweat and moisture against the skin, leading to irritation and rash formation,” Shahbaz said.

Even a loose watch can cause irritation after bacteria and sweat accumulate underneath it over time, he added. Insufficient cleaning of the watch will exacerbate this.

Lipner said that for most people, this type of rash is simply irritant contact dermatitis, attributable to “friction, moisture, or soaps and detergents that are trapped underneath.”

Allergies to metals such as nickel or cobalt, commonly found in components of watches, watch casings, and bands, are possible too.

“Less commonly, people may develop an allergic contact dermatitis, which is a true skin allergy— either to components of the metal part of the watch or the band,” Lipner said.

What You Should Do About an Apple Watch Rash?

If you notice skin irritation or a rash due to your Apple Watch, the first thing you should do is remove the watch and clean the skin underneath with mild soap and water, Lipner said. This will remove sweat, detergent residues, and bacteria.

She recommends moisturizing the skin afterward with a thick petroleum-based moisturizer. If your skin is very itchy, you can consider an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.

Shahbaz noted that it’s essential to keep the area dry and avoid wearing the watch until the rash improves or resolves.

If you develop a rash under your Apple Watch and it’s not improving or it’s worsening in the days after taking it off, visit a board-certified dermatologist for further evaluation and appropriate treatment.

What Can You Do to Prevent It?

To prevent an Apple Watch rash, consider following these recommendations: 

  • Wear the watch loosely enough to allow air circulation and minimize friction against the skin. 
  • Remove the watch daily and clean it along with the band regularly with mild soap and water to remove sweat, dirt, and bacteria.
  • Opt for watch bands made from hypoallergenic materials or those labeled as suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Consider using a protective barrier, such as a band cover or hypoallergenic tape, between the watch and the skin to reduce direct contact.

If you develop a rash due to an allergy to the metal, you will not be able to wear the watch at all, Lipner said. However, if the allergy is to the band, you can simply swap it out.

“Individuals with known allergies or sensitive skin should be particularly cautious when selecting watch materials and consider consulting a dermatologist before wearing a new device for extended periods,” Shahbaz said.

What This Means For You

If you develop irritation or a rash from your Apple Watch, remove the watch, clean the skin underneath, and moisturize the skin. Use hydrocortisone cream if you’re particularly itchy. If the rash does not improve, see a board-certified dermatologist who can diagnose your rash and prescribe the right treatment.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Apple. Wearing your Apple watch.

By Alyssa Hui

Alyssa Hui is a St. Louis-based health and science news writer. She was the 2020 recipient of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association Jack Shelley Award.

The article was first published here

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