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Bill Bennett


Why I had to stop wearing the Apple Watch

A few days after I first tried the Apple Watch I found myself scratching my irritated wrist. I took a break from wearing it and my wrist got better.

For a while I fell into a pattern of only wearing the watch when I worked away from home. At home, I’d leave it off. This runs counter to the idea of wearable devices, but it worked for me.

At least I thought it did. I was getting a mild rash and would find myself scratching my wrist and the area around it. But things seemed under control.

It turns out they weren’t.


There was still some discomfort. I took to loosening the band in case the problem was to do with it being too tight. My skin didn’t improve. In fact the problem got worse. I found the area where my thumb meets my hand was red and itchy.

At home, Johanna says she noticed swelling around my wrist, across the lower part of my hand and thumb. We compared my right and left hands. I wear the watch on the left hand, but am right-handed for most things. The left hand is clearly swollen in comparison with the right.

My instinct was to wear the Watch even less and keep an eye open for more symptoms.

Warning Will Robinson

Ten days ago I visited a medical specialist needing treatment for another medical problem. Like a lot of people he noticed my Apple Watch. I thought he was interested in the technology. He wasn’t. Instead he took a closer look at my rash and told me to take the watch off.

He told me I had an allergic reaction to the material. It could be the strap — my Watch has a black Sports Band. Or it could be the watch itself.

The medical specialist asked if my reaction had worsened over the weeks I’ve been wearing the watch. I couldn’t be certain, there’s a boiling frog aspect, you don’t notice a slowly worsening skin reaction creeping up on you.

After some thought, I realised it was getting worse.

Potentially serious

He said this could be serious. It turns out some allergic skin reactions have a cumulative effect. They can go on getting worse and reach a point where it is hard to recover. In extreme cases it can lead to anaphylactic shock.

Now, this was the doctor’s reaction after seeing the rash. I wasn’t there for this condition and we didn’t take things further. It wasn’t a formal diagnosis, just some friendly, informed advice.

Apple acknowledges some people may have a reaction to the Watch materials. It says it went to great lengths to test and check materials first. The Apple Watch support website offers some advice on possible allergic reactions.

Material care

It says: “A great deal of care and research go into choosing materials for all our devices. A small number of people will experience reactions to certain materials.

“This can be due to allergies, environmental factors, extended exposure to irritants like soap or sweat, and other causes.

“If you know you have allergies or other sensitivities, be aware that Apple Watch and some of its bands contain nickel and methacrylate.’

Apple suggests people who have problems should talk to a doctor before wearing or returning to wearing the Watch. I’ve done that and for me, the long-term review is over.

In the next few days I’ll report my thoughts about my time with the Watch. Top of that list is that the best thing about the Apple Watch is that has made me more aware of my health. Some irony there.



14 thoughts on “Why I had to stop wearing the Apple Watch

  1. I wear an irony alert on my wrist too. It’s called a heart rate monitor. It tells the time too and every so often I use it for what it was designed as but the reminder is more subtle than a rash 🙂

    1. Yep, like 316 surgical stainless steel, titanium or some other alloys. Instead they used platsic.

      When your paying as much as an Apple watch costs then the slightly added costs of the alloy shouldn’t even factor into it.

      1. There a plastic watch strap (Apple calls them bands, maybe that’s an American thing) and there are leather or metal ones. I had the plastic strap. My Swatch strap is leather and gets sweaty in summer, but there’s no allergic reaction.

        While I believe Apple’s claims about testing the materials before the Watch went on sale, it looks like the sample size wasn’t big enough. Other than hay fever and wheat I don’t have any other allegies and didn’t know about this one until now.

        1. Good question. I think it’s the band because the rash was all around my wrist, not just on the device side. But then the swelling extended almost 100 mm away up to my thumb. I’ve packed it up now, but even if I hadn’t, I’d be wary of testing it after the warning from the specialist.

      2. Apple has a range of straps, Draco T Bastard. Your accidental misrepresentation of Apple’s range of bands is a shame. Unless it was on purpose.

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