Image source: Fitbit

Dermatologists say fitness trackers should come with hygiene warnings

The Apple Watch or Fitbit on your wrist could cause rashes and boils as such devices are perfect breeding ground for micro-organisms, it has been revealed.

Essential reading: How to avoid getting a rash from your fitness tracker or smartwatch

This is according to an investigation published by The Sunday Telegraph. The study tested the skin surfaces of five regular smartwatch users and found higher levels of bacteria than normal. The device used included the Apple Watch, Fitbit’s Versa smartwatch and Charge. One of the women in the study had levels of bacteria that was an incredible 300 times higher than average!

While by no means a large scale investigation, the results certainly reveal what most of us wearable tech lovers already know. If you don’t clean your fitness tracker or smartwatch on a regular basis, there’s a good chance your skin will revolt. And this is not limited to Apple and Fitbit devices. The problem surfaces because high levels of staphyloccus bacteria, which can be found on clothing or the skin, will often lead to skin irritations.

“The usually harmless bacteria can get into the skin, with regular friction under these devices,” Dr Nicole Chiang, a dermatologist from the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust told the newspaper.

“Once there it can cause infections such as boils or a painful rash”.

The problems could get even worse as battery life of wearables is improving each year, reducing the need to remove them often. Dr Sweta Rai from the British Association of Dermatologists said it’s important to give your skin holiday time to allow it to breathe. She also suggested cleaning the device on a regular basis with antibacterial wipes, particularly after exercise.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and spokesman for the British Skin Foundation said that nickel allergies can sometimes cause issues. This is usually from the clasps on fitness trackers and smartwatches that hold the band in place.

Experts have also added that manufacturers should do more to educate wearers on potential hygiene issues. There is a realistic possibility you may develop a rash or boil from wearing your fitness tracker or smartwatch, a fact some of them tend to gloss over. Check out our guide on what to do if you’re suffering from such issues.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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