Identifying the Cause and Taking Action

Essential Points

  • Sporting an Apple watch may potentially lead to irritation, manifesting as crimson dots or spots on the inside or outside of the wrist.
  • Specialists assert numerous factors could trigger an Apple watch rash, such as wearing the device too snugly, accumulation of sweat and bacteria, or allergies to specific metals. 
  • If you encounter a rash from your Apple watch, experts suggest discarding the watch, washing the affected area with gentle soap and water, and refraining from wearing the device until the rash improves.

If you’re donning the stylish Ultra 2 or the fashionable Series 9, skin irritation is likely not part of the Apple Watch aesthetic you desire.

Nevertheless, dermatologists inform Verywell.

If a rash arises from your Apple Watch, here’s what to understand about the possible causes and actions you can take to prevent a recurrence.

How Prevalent Is Skin Irritation From an Apple Watch? 

While skin irritation or a rash from donning an Apple Watch and similar gadgets is a possibility, it is not extremely common, Ali Shahbaz, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas, conveyed to Verywell in an email. 

“In my practice, I do encounter patients who show such symptoms, although it’s not one of the most frequent complaints,” he remarked.

Specific groups of individuals face a higher likelihood of developing irritation or a rash from their Apple Watch device, Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, a board-certified dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, conveyed to Verywell in an email. These encompass individuals with compromised or sensitive skin, such as those with eczema or psoriasis, very dry skin, or excessive sweaters.

What Appearance Does an Apple Watch Rash Exhibit?

The manifestation of a rash induced by donning an Apple Watch may exhibit various forms, but typically materializes as redness, itchiness, or irritation on the skin in the location where the watch is worn, Shahbaz stated.

He added it might also manifest as “crimson dots or patches, either on the inside or outside of the wrist.”

If irritation gives rise to your rash—whether from the band or the watch itself—it will likely manifest as clustered pinkish-red bumps on lighter skin tones and purplish-brown bumps on darker skin tones, Lipner said.

If you’re undergoing an allergic reaction to the watch, your rash could resemble the responsible item.

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

What Might Be Triggering an Apple Watch Rash? 

Numerous factors could contribute to an Apple Watch rash, comprising wearing the watch too snugly.

“Tightly-fitting watches are capable of ensnaring sweat and moisture against the skin, leading to irritation and rash emergence,” Shahbaz articulated.

Even a loosely-fitted watch could result in irritation after bacteria and sweat accumulate beneath it over time, he appended. Inadequate cleaning of the watch will exacerbate this.

Lipner highlighted that for most individuals, this kind of rash simply signifies irritant contact dermatitis, attributable to “friction, moisture, or soaps and detergents trapped underneath.”

Allergies to metals such as nickel or cobalt, commonly present in watch components, casings, and bands, are also plausible.

“Occasionally, individuals may develop an allergic contact dermatitis, which constitutes a genuine skin allergy— whether to metal components of the watch or the band,” Lipner mentioned.

What Actions You Should Take Regarding an Apple Watch Rash?

If you observe skin irritation or a rash from your Apple Watch, the initial step is to eliminate the watch, cleanse the skin beneath with gentle soap and water, Lipner stated. This will eliminate sweat, detergent residues, and bacteria.

She suggests moisturizing the skin subsequently with a thick petroleum-based moisturizer. If you are intensely itchy, you can consider an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.

Shahbaz underscored the importance of maintaining the area dry and refraining from wearing the watch until the rash ameliorates or resolves.

If a rash arises beneath your Apple Watch and does not improve or worsens after removing it, consult a board-certified dermatologist for further assessment and appropriate intervention.

What Measures Can You Take to Avoid It?

To sidestep an Apple Watch rash, contemplate adhering to these suggestions: 

  • Don the watch loosely enough to enable air circulation and mitigate friction against the skin. 
  • Take off the watch each day and routinely clean it along with the band with mild soap and water to eliminate sweat, dirt, and bacteria.
  • Opt for watch bands constructed from hypoallergenic materials or those designated as appropriate for sensitive skin.
  • Consider utilizing a protective barrier, such as a band cover or hypoallergenic tape, between the watch and the skin to minimize direct contact.

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

“Individuals with known allergies or sensitive skin should exercise particular caution when selecting watch materials and contemplate consulting a dermatologist before wearing a new device for extended periods,” Shahbaz highlighted.

Implications

If you encounter irritation or a rash from your Apple Watch, detach the watch, cleanse the skin underneath, and hydrate the skin. Employ hydrocortisone cream if you are notably itchy. If the rash shows no improvement, seek guidance from a board-certified dermatologist who can diagnose your rash and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Verywell Health employs solely top-notch sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to corroborate the information within our articles. View our editorial process to gain insight on how we verify and uphold our content as accurate, dependable, and credible.
  1. Apple. Donning 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.

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