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Chafing Rash From Wearables Skin Reactions Moisture Friction Prevention

pexels-ketut-subiyanto-4436355 chafing rash from wearables

Last updated 03/11/2022

Do you wear one of these wearables? I have a smart watch that keeps track of steps and other things. Chafing rash from wearables.

These devices are quite popular. What did we do before these things came along? And new stuff is always being added, ah technology. Above all, the trend continues to grow.

Just a few names they have wearables, trackers and smart watches. I thought they were all Fitbits. Likewise, mine has heart rate, BP and Sp02.

If I want to know how I’m doing I just check my watch (right)? Aside from all this amazing information something is creeping in. Most importantly, a skin concern could be a rash.

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Chafing Rash From Wearables

Due to the fact they are worn for extended periods (like we don’t seem to want to take them off). Reports have been made of an irritation from the device. Further the National Library of Medicine says this is underreported.

The wearable rash that has been surfacing for some time comes down to two culprits. The one more common is chafing rash. In short, most likely what you could be experiencing.

On the other hand, is a metal allergy. This could be an issue if you’re known to have irritation wearing certain jewelry. To sum up, these could be earrings or rings.

What is Chafing?

Chafing is a common skin concern. A mild chafing rash is typically not painful but may itch. This rash does not spread. Likewise, it occurs more in certain areas of the body during physical activities.

Constant friction along with a damp area can lead to chafed skin. Skin can breakdown if it’s overworked. Then bacteria get in causing an infection. As a result, skin becomes red and sensitive.

Most often this is discovered on locations where your sweat meets something tight. Say under your bra and underarms. Certainly, your right, that wearable too.

   Common areas that chafe:

  • Inner thighs
  • Armpits
  • Buttocks
  • Groin
  • Nipples
  • Wrist as with the wearables

In severe cases doctors call it friction burn. It can have a burning or stinging sensation. That is to say, these could bleed, crust or blister as well.

What Happens to Your Skin With the Wearable?

Since most tend to wear the devices continually moisture can be trapped under it. This moisture can be soap and sweat. There are devices that are said to repel water. However, this buildup of moisture can cause bacterial growth.

In addition, friction or putting pressure on this makes an uncomfortable environment. So, your skin can have an immediate reaction. For example, having your smart watch against your skin creating moisture can lead to sores and a rash.

A rash is a noticeable change in color and texture of your skin. This especially can occur if you have sensitive skin. In the same vein, this is often a complaint with newlyweds having water trapped under their rings causing irritation while washing dishes.

Skin Sensitivity

While you’re usually concerned about the specifications when purchasing a new gadget you could consider skin sensitivity of your wrist. As your skin is unique there are other reasons for it to react.


If you know of a nickel allergy it’s best to choose soft, durable plastic. And a perforated grid will improve breathability also.


Soap can contain a mixture of lye, oil, fragrance and coloring agents all of these can irritate sensitive skin. This can be the same with dishwashing detergents, bubble bath and body washes. Above all, liquids trapped under your band cause irritation to skin after a while.


When your sweat ducts (eccrine) are blocked this leads to milaria. If your wristband is too tight these ducts can become blocked. Most importantly, this can cause problems during humid weather.

This is often recognized as heat rash. In addition, it is also known as sweat rash or prickly heat.

Treatment for Chafing

Don’t ignore your chafed skin. If left untreated your inflamed, moisture-laden skin could allow bacteria in and become infected. First of all, when chafing does happen cleanse with a gentle soap and lukewarm water.

After that pat your skin dry and let it air out for a couple minutes. Meanwhile you can apply a soothing emollient to assist with protecting the skin.


A barrier cream moisturizer can be applied to your wrist. These create a protective shield between your skin and any irritants. Likewise, that excess moisture due to your sweat.

Look for ingredients like:

  • Lipids
  • Glycerine
  • Ceramides
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Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is known to sooth inflammation and reduces redness.  InfiniteAloe is a great source for products containing organic aloe vera.

Otherwise, you may have your own aloe vera plant and can extract the gel from a leave. Apply the gel to clean, dry skin. Furthermore, aloe vera leaves can also be purchased at natural food stores.

Petroleum Jelly

You are most likely to have this on hand. It will reduce further irritation when applied to the area. Remember it is slippery and doesn’t absorb fast but will be fine on your wrist. Moreover, petroleum jelly can be purchased at your local dollar store.

The chafing rash typically clears up after a couple days once you stop the activity that caused it. Doctors aren’t usually consulted unless an infection occurs.

But if the area is really sore or swollen you should consult your dermatologist. A corticosteroid cream or ointment could be prescribed or suggested. Thus, assisting to reduce the inflammation.

Prevention from Chafing

And then to avoid chafing from your wearable in the future here are some steps.


Cleaning your wearable regularly is a simple solution to keep trapped moisture and bacteria from forming. These most likely are the cause of sensitivity. In conclusion, make sure to clean and thoroughly dry your wrist and fitness band before putting on again. Thus, after activities where you are sweating, or skin becomes wet.


You and your skin must be able to breath. So give your wrist some air. In short, you don’t need your wearable on 24/7 every single day (you can do this).

I take mine off when I shower and leave it off for a couple hours (good time to recharge).

Not Tight

The band should be worn loose enough so it can easily move back and forth on your wrist. I’ve read were, you should be able to place two fingers under the band. For instance, you could tighten it when jogging then loosen it again afterward if you like.

Switch Wrist

To give your wrist a break (and air) you could switch to the other wrist for a bit. However, if you do this longer you might need to reset things in your app.

This can be done at night (I wear mine while I sleep) so you aren’t wearing on the same wrist for 24 hours straight.

Remove Before Shower

Remove your tracker before showering so water and soap is not trapped between skin and the device. Your skin can lose natural oils when you shower that support its moisture barrier. So it is important that your skin has these.  In short hot water even strips away more of your skin’s natural oils.

Corn Starch

A light dusting of corn starch under your watch plate will absorb moisture and reduce friction.

Most importantly, there is more to consider when purchasing your device.

Metal Allergy From Wearables

You may actually be allergic to some materials in your tracker. Further this is often metals like nickel. So, your immune system responses, this is also known as allergic contact dermatitis.

The difference being an allergic response usually takes about several days to appear compared to a contact dermatitis response.


  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Burning sensation
  • Bumps
  • Blisters
  • Rashes
  • Scaly skin
pexels-ketut-subiyanto-4436294 chafing rash from wearables

Your sweating in this area could worsen things through increasing the distribution of the nickel. A bit of research has been done concerning allergens in wearables and trackers. In conclusion, users can develop allergic contact dermatitis from wearing them.

If this is what you are experiencing, you’ll need to quit wearing your device. Just until you figure out of course if this is the issue. Further your dermatologist or allergist could have you do a patch test. After that you could find a device without nickel in it, if you are allergic.

If you think you are allergic to the material of the wristband (typically silicone but also acrylates and methacrylates ) switch. For example, try wearing a fabric, woven or leather strap.

Wrapping it up

There is so much useful information on these trackers. As they are popular everyone seems to have one. So, this gives plenty of brands and different technology to choose from.

Recall that there is moisture under your wearable and physical activity adds friction. This provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. And you don’t want bacteria to get into this rash and cause an infection.

But if you should develop a skin condition from your tracker you can do without it until the area is treated. Most importantly aloe vera is great for irritated inflamed skin and can assist healing.

On the other hand, prevent this from happening. Take regular breaks from the device. Also keep the area clean and dry.


Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

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