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Jewelry Rashes | A true allergy or just an irritation?

There are a few triggers for your skin changes under your watch. Read on...




Photo: Wix

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Why do I get a rash under my watch?

There are a few triggers for your skin changes under your watch.

The first is moisture and soap residue build up between the watch and the skin. This is the most common issue. Often people come in worried they are allergic to their wedding jewelry (and worry their spouses bought them the ‘fake stuff’:). The real issue is that if water and soap build up between a watch or other jewelry item and the skin, the result will be the beginnings of skin breakdown. Essentially the soap starts to do its job and emulsify the fats and lipids in the superficial layers of the skin. This turns the skin white and macerated and appears ‘wrinkly’. If the skin is not addressed at this point then dead skin cells start to accumulate and the keratin can start to smell (kind of like the cheesy white stuff that comes out of a cyst or a pimple).
The second issue that comes up is that some are allergic to nickel and rubber in the watch backing and bands. This would present a little different, however. Initially, it would appear as a red itchy rash as opposed to skin wrinkling and breakdown.



How is it best to manage rashes to watches?

For the first scenario, it’s a good idea to dry the skin completely underneath the band and watch face after washing, sweating, or showering to avoid moisture buildup.

For the second scenario, finding a barrier option to place between the watch and the skin or coating the metal with a sealant if possible may help.

What are some things that shoppers should consider when purchasing a smart watch band for working out?

Rashes resulting from watch bands, especially ones worn during workouts, have become relatively common. Watches intended to be used while active face a special challenge of retaining a fit to keep the watch face steady while not being too tight to avoid sweat, oil, and debris building up below the waistband. With a looser fit, functionally speaking the watch will move during an active workout and risk the watch face spinning to the opposite side of the wrist. This can be uncomfortable and make it difficult to manage the constant need to spin it back. The friction generated by this process can also be irritating to the wrist. If the waistband is fit to stay in place, the risk is that the band will hold sweat, oil, and debris close to the wrist for long stretches of time and triggering skin breakdown and irritation.

Are there any styles or materials that are better for comfort, durability, breathability, sweat/water resistance, and ease of cleaning/maintenance?

Comfort in a waistband while sweating relies on a soft textured textile that can wick moisture away from the skin. This reduces the irritation from friction and pulls moisture away from the skin to avoid potential skin breakdown. Look for bands with either nylon at the point of closest contact with the skin or a band with multiple points of aeration or holes to allow air to access the area to help sweat evaporate.


Silicone is actually breathable and has the added benefit of softly gripping the skin to avoid movement of the band while sweating or active. Silicone is also beneficial for its water resistance and easy cleaning compared to cloth bands that may be difficult to maintain.


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