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Fitbit Advises Rash Sufferers to Take a Break From Wearing the Wearable

Fitbit responds to, ahem, a rash of new complaints.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code

Fitbit has already been through a recall. And it’s now actively trying to avoid another.

In response to a number of complaints that Fitbit’s newest activity-tracking wristbands are causing skin irritations, the company has issued a statement advising affected wearers to take a break.

“We continue to be aware of a very limited percentage of users reporting skin irritation among our users,” a Fitbit spokeswoman said in a statement to Re/code, adding that the skin reactions are not uncommon with jewelry or other wearable devices that are pressed against the skin for long periods of time.

“According to our consulting dermatologists, they are likely from wearing the band too tight; sweat, water, or soap being held against the skin under the device; or from pressure or friction against the skin.” The irritation “should resolve quickly when users take a break from the device, usually within hours or days.”

In other words, take a break from wearable the wearable. Which is problematic, really, because Fitbits are meant to be worn, in order to track your steps, sleep and other personally fascinating metrics.

I recently tested the three new Fitbits, wearing the Charge for a month (although with some breaks), and did not experience any skin irritation. It’s worth noting that some wearers of competing devices, like the Jawbone Up, have complained about rashes, too.

Unfortunately for Fitbit, this is not the company’s first rash-y rodeo. Last year, it voluntarily recalled its Force wristband after nearly two percent of users said they suffered skin irritations. This also resulted in a lawsuit.

Since then, the company has become more transparent about the materials it uses in its wristbands, and for its newest products — the Charge, the Charge HR and the Surge — Fitbit made sure that “no adhesive in any part of the devices come into close contact with the skin,” Fitbit founder and CEO James Park said in an interview last fall.

But some complaints around the newer Fitbits started to emerge in December, when a Yahoo Tech writer said the Fitbit Charge irritated her skin.

Then, this morning, ABC7 news in San Francisco reported that it had found more than 200 instances of new Fitbit rash complaints on social media.

Fitbit says it is continuing to monitor the issue, as it “impacts all companies that make products worn next to the skin.”

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