Ann Bracey says she was messing with her hummingbird feeder and felt her wrist burning. She thought maybe an insect got trapped under the watch and stung her.
“It hurt. It really hurt. And I thought to myself, “Owwww, I’ve got a bee under the watch,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “The next morning, I woke up, only to scream and say, ‘Oh me, because the burn, it had gotten huge. Three inches.”
She says she wore her watch low, right where that redness is.
“My arm hurt. It burned. It was getting really big and red,” she added.
She told Apple.
“I need to know that the watch is safe or they need to make it safe,” Bracey said. “Lots of people wear these watches and they need to know that this can happen.”
Stoogenke checked Consumer Product Safety Commission records and found eighteen complaints like Bracey’s. People claimed their Apple Watches caused “burns and parts of skin to peel away,” a “circular red patch,” “severe skin redness,” an “itchy, dry rash,” “skin irritation,” “burning,” “blisters,” and the list goes on.
Stoogenke also came across other online posts about this issue, including on an Apple forum. A person claimed one of the watches caused “red marks” that looked like “burns.”
WABC in New York ran a news report. It says a woman claimed her Apple Watch heated up, burning her wrist. Apple said it tested the watch and that “it had not reached a temperature which would have caused any injury.” The company still gave the woman a full refund.
Stoogenke contacted Apple. The spokesperson wouldn’t talk to him on record.
The company’s website lists the materials in its watches and bands. It doesn’t say anything about “burns,” but it does mention “potential skin sensitivities” and that a “small number” of people may “experience reactions to certain materials,” which the company says could be due to allergies, environmental factors, or extended exposure to irritants, like soap or sweat.
Apple says on its website to:
- Keep your skin clean and dry.
- Be careful switching to bands Apple didn’t make.
- Make sure the band isn’t too tight or too loose.
Dr. Steven Feldman is a dermatologist with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem. He told Stoogenke one of his patients had a “skin rash following use of an Apple Watch.”
He and a medical student wrote a paper about it. They pointed out:
- Many watches — including Apple ones — contain nickel, which “is associated with allergic” reactions.
- Customers “may wear smart watches tighter due to the presence of heart rate sensors.”
- The watch bands are “more likely to be made of synthetic polymers” with more “friction.”
But he thinks reactions are very rare. “I wouldn’t even worry about this. I think it’s such an uncommon phenomena, I wouldn’t pay it any mind when I was deciding what kind of watch to buy,” he said.
No matter what brand you buy, if you have sensitive skin:
- You may want to check what’s in it. After all, it’s up against your skin all day.
- If you think something’s wrong with the watch, the company may ask you to give it back for testing. You can say no. You may want to have it tested yourself. Once you hand it over, you may not get it back.
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