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Garmin Watch giving me Rash, Allergy, or Burns: What to do? (FR, Fenix, Instinct)

I bought a Garmin watch a few days ago and I’ve been having some issues with it. For starters, it gave me a rash all over my wrist. It was really itchy and uncomfortable and eventually turned into a full-blown allergy. I also started getting burns on my wrist from where the watch was sitting. They were small at first, but they gradually got worse and started blistering.

The above experience was shared by a Reddit user with the latest Garmin Fenix 7, and as we dug deeper into the comments, we found that a number of other watches from Vivoactive, Forerunner, and Instinct Series were giving skin reactions like rashes and burns.

This post is a compilation of all the information we could gather on this issue. If your Garmin Watch is giving you a rash, allergy, or burns, here’s what you need to do.

How to avoid getting a rash from Garmin watch:

You can try a number of things to avoid getting allergic reactions from your Garmin Watch. loosening the band, replacing it with a metal-free alternative, and regularly washing the band do the trick for most people.

Let’s discuss these solutions in detail.

Adjust your Garmin Watch Strap:

The first thing you should try is loosening the band. Some people wear the band so tight that it blocks the sweat ducts leading to Militia. This is usually the case with people who run or work out with their watches and sweat a lot.

Also, people who live in hot and humid climates are more prone to this. If you think this could be the case, simply loosen your band and see if the rash goes away.

The strap should have a snug fit. An overly loosened band will rub against your skin as you exercise leading to skin irritation. 

Regularly Clean the Garmin Strap:

No matter which series you pick (Forerunner, Fenix, Venu, or Vivoactive), the latest watches from Garmin come with enough water resistance to handle sweat, rain, and even swimming. Most people are in a habit of taking their Garmin watch to shower, but not many regularly wash the band.

If you don’t clean your band regularly, the sweat and dirt will accumulate over time and might cause skin reactions like rashes. Soap and conditioners also play a role in such allergic reactions, as they get trapped under the band. Another culprit is bacteria which multiply under the skin and leads to unpleasant odors and irritation.

To clean the band, simply remove it from your watch and wash it with soap-free cleaner (Cetaphil) and fresh water. You can also use a soft toothbrush to scrub the band gently. Once you’re done, rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry completely before putting it back on your wrist.

Replace the Strap:

Nickel allergy is common, and a lot of people are allergic to it. The good news is, that most Garmin watch bands have silicone strap options that are completely nickel-free and won’t cause any skin reactions.  However, the buckle on the strap is made of stainless steel and does have some nickel in it.

If you’re allergic to nickel and getting rashes from your watch, you can try replacing the band with a third-party silicone band that has either a plastic or titanium buckle. You should prefer the bands with perforations so the skin can breathe. For instance, bands made from elastic, nylon, or leather allow more breathability than silicone or TPU.

Alternatively, you can also try coating the buckle with nail polish. This will create a barrier between your skin and the nickel and might help in reducing allergic reactions. Or you can buy a nylon fabric strap that completely covers the buckle. A Reddit user with FR945  has applied both of these tips to avoid rashes and allergic reactions.

Most users have more than one band for their watch, so they can simply swap them out when needed. For example, a perforated band is more suitable for sports activities when you sweat a lot, while a leather band can be used for business meetings or formal occasions.

Switch Wrists:

You should regularly switch the watch between the dominant and non-dominant hands. Garmin watches offer a solid battery performance, so there is little motivation for people to remove the watch and let the skin breathe.

Also, the features like continuous heart rate and VO2 max tracking further discourage people from taking the watch off. Removing the Garmin watch is not an option for many people so the only solution is to switch wrists.

Apply Skin Moisturizer:

Apart from the Garmin band strap, you should also regularly your skin and apply some moisturizer to keep it hydrated. This will prevent the skin from drying out, which can is another cause of rashes and skin reactions.

You can try some hypoallergenic lotion or cream that is suitable for sensitive skin. Apply this to the areas where you’re experiencing allergic reactions. This will help in soothing the skin and create a barrier between the watch and your skin.

Consult a Dermatologist:

If you’ve tried all of the above solutions and nothing seems to be working, you should consult a dermatologist. Skin allergies should not be taken lightly, and a dermatologist will be able to help you identify the allergen and prescribe medication accordingly.

These self-help tips are there for mild burns, but if the reactions are severe, you should see a doctor immediately.

Wrapping Up:

Allergic reactions from Garmin watches are rare, but they can happen, especially to those having sensitive skin. The good news is, that there are several things you can do to avoid them.

If you’re experiencing allergic reactions, try loosening the band, replacing it with a nickel-free alternative, or simply switching wrists. If these solutions don’t alleviate your pain, try consulting a dermatologist.