What to Do If Your Fitness Tracker Gives You a Rash

It is the dirty little secret of fitness trackers, one that manufacturers tend to gloss right on over when hyping their product. That secret is that there is a distinct possibly that your fitness tracker may give you a rash around your wrist.

While this is not the case for many, more than you would think have to treat themselves for wrist rashes no matter what brand they get. Luckily, for the majority of those who get rashes, the cause is an easy fix providing they dedicate themselves to proper care to both their skin and their fitness tracker.

So what is causing that rash under your fitness tracker?

Common Causes of Fitness Tracker Wrist Rash

My fitness tracker causes a rash on my wrist
Loosening your fitness tracker can make a big difference to any rashes

According to the media, wrist rashes are a Fitbit problem, but it is not just a Fitbit problem. Garmin, Jawbone, Polar – all fitness tracker users can experience them. Everyone’s skin is unique, and like the delicate snowflakes that we are, different things can cause different reactions. A rash is just the body’s way of telling you that something is irritating it. Common irritants in terms of fitness trackers include:


  • Allergies – When people get a rash, typically they believe that they are having an allergic reaction. While this is not always true, allergies are a dangerous culprit which does need to be considered. Fitness tracker bands are commonly made of lightweight, flexible plastic or silicon. It not only keeps things light on the wrist, but improves breathability. The problem is because these plastics are made out of a number of chemicals, they can cause reactions.
  • Soap – Yes, that’s right. Soap. It is not so much that your fitness tracker comes with soap on it, but because they need to sit snug on the wrist to get proper reading, soap gets trapped in there.This is a common problem in waterproof and highly water resistant models that allow you to shower with your tracker on. However, even just washing your hands can result in trapped soap. Soap, once dried or left on the skin for a long period of time, can be highly irritating due to the presence of fragrances, dyes, and other chemicals.
  • Sweat  – Your fitness tracker may be sweat-proof, but surprisingly, your skin is not. When your band is on tight and you are sweating up a storm, this will often result in milaria, or “heat rash,” which is the result of blocked sweat ducts.

As you can tell, some common causes of fitness tracker rashes can be easily dealt with. However, others will require a little more research and might even lock you out from fitness trackers forever.

What is the Cause of Fitness Tracker Band Allergies?

The reason that many people associate rashes to allergies when it comes to fitness trackers is almost exclusively the fault of Fitbit. Due to mishaps at their factory, they had recall all FitBit Force wristbands in 2014 because they accidentally included a chemical called methacrylate in the adhesive. While some people have no reaction to it, there was a larger than normal amount of Force wearers that complained of burning and itching on their wrist.

This is the typical case with most fitness tracker allergies. They use a lot of chemicals to create such flexible and light wristbands and some people are sensitive to certain chemicals.

A number of people also have allergic reactions to nickel, which is commonly included in the stainless steel parts of fitness trackers. Some have a stainless steel plate that rests against the skin to get better readings while other simply feature the stainless steel buckle like a wristwatch of old.

People may use stainless steel silverware, but most people don’t realize they have a nickel allergy until they are exposed to it for like periods of time, like through a fitness tracker.

How to Properly Keep a Fitness Tracker Band Clean

If you have deduced that your skin irritation is not caused by the material that your fitness tracker is made of, then it is likely caused by soap or other irritants getting caught in there. You skin irritation is living, burning proof that just because you can shower with a fitness tracker on, doesn’t mean you should.

A fitness tracker is a lot like wearing socks. You can keep them on all the time, but the skin underneath needs to breathe and be cleaned. Our skin is crawling with bacteria, not necessarily bad bacteria, but bacteria and dead skin that needs to be cleaned away and thrives in moist conditions. If you wear socks all the time, you get foot fungus. If you wear your tracker all the time, you get a rash. Dead skin, soap, bacteria, dirt, and sweat become a powerful rash-causing slurry under your waterproof fitness tracker that, if ignored, will easily become a more dangerous infection.

Think of shower time as a time not only to clean your body (including your wrist), but a time to clean the band of your fitness tracker as well. Invest in some alcohol wipes, the kind doctors will use to clean your skin before giving you a shot, and wipe down the underside as well as the top of the band. Even if you only have a water resistant band, the alcohol will dry fast enough so as to not damage any of the functions.

If you have a cloth mesh band, this cleaning technique won’t work as well. However, you can simply remove the band and wash it by hand with soap. However, be sure to rinse thoroughly.

How to Avoid Fitness Tracker Rashes

No matter whether you have an allergy, irritation from material caught under the band, or have blocked sweat glands, each is easily treatable so you can continue to enjoy your wearable tech.

When it comes to allergies, all you need to do is to switch to a different type of band. If you are allergic to nickel, finding bands without stainless steel are easy. However, if you are allergic to the plastic ones, it might be more of a task to find an alternative. However, sometimes it is as simple as switching to another brand.

For irritation from trapped soap, you simply need to be diligent in cleaning your band and taking it off sometimes. This is something you should be doing even if you don’t have a rash. For those that suffer heat rash, the solution is even simpler. You merely need to loosen the bracelet a little so your sweat glands can continue to excrete without being impeded.

All three common skin irritation factors caused by fitness trackers are simple fixes. You don’t need to endure a rash if you are into fitness trackers, you just need to make adjustments.