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Fitbit Recalls Force Following Rash of Rash Complaints

Nearly 2 percent of customers reported skin irritations.

Courtesy: Fitbit

Fitbit announced a voluntary recall of its latest device, the Fitbit Force, after nearly 2 percent of users reported skin irritations.

Chief Executive James Park said the San Francisco company has stopped selling the fitness tracker and will offer full refunds to those who already bought it.

“While only 1.7 percent of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation, we care about every one of our customers,” Park said. “On behalf of the entire Fitbit team, I want to apologize to anyone affected.”

The Force went on sale just ahead of the holidays, but complaints began to surface before the end of the year. Customers on Amazon and other online forums described developing itchy red rashes, bumps and blisters after wearing the device. In many cases, the symptoms didn’t go away even after they stopped wearing the Force and treated the affected area with over-the-counter medication.

Technology consultant Matthew Kovinsky wore the Force for more than a month before noticing redness on his wrist when showing a friend the device over brunch. He immediately stopped wearing it but the rash persisted, he said in an interview earlier this week.

Kovinsky’s doctor prescribed a strong steroid cream last week. It had begun to help, but the rash was still visible as of Tuesday.

“This is a product that’s supposed to make people healthier and instead it’s doing the opposite,” he said. “The Hippocratic Oath, do no harm, should apply. It’s hypocritical for a company whose mission is to create healthier lives.”

Fitbit didn’t say in the post whether it would compensate customers for medical expenses, and a spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Re/code.

After the complaints began, Fitbit hired independent labs and medical experts to try to ascertain the problem.

Test results found customers were likely experiencing allergic contact dermatitis, with some possibly reacting to nickel in the device and others to adhesives or materials in the strap, the company said on Friday.

“To our Force community, rest assured we’re working on our next-generation tracker and will announce news about it soon,” Park said.

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