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Wearable Device Dermatitis: A Case of Acrylate-Related Contact Allergy

The popularity of mobile wearable health devices has skyrocketed. Some of these devices are worn on the wrist and have been associated with the development of allergic contact dermatitis. Although nickel has been the suspected culprit in cases reported by the media for consumers, we present a rare report of a patient who developed a localized contact dermatitis that was linked to acrylate allergy on epicutaneous patch testing. We surmise that the source of this acrylate might derive from leaching of this compound from the rechargeable battery housing given its correspondence to where the rash arose.

Practice Points

  • Mobile wearable health devices are likely to become an important potential source of contact sensitization as their use increases given their often prolonged contact time with the skin.
  • Mobile wearable health devices may pose a risk for allergic contact dermatitis as a result of a variety of components that come into contact with the skin, including but not limited to metals, rubber components, adhesives, and dyes.
Mobile health devices enable patients and clinicians to monitor the type, quantity, and quality of everyday activities and hold the promise of improving patient health and health care practices.1 In 2013, 75% of surveyed consumers in the United States owned a fitness technology product, either a dedicated fitness device, application, or portable blood pressure monitor.2 Ownership of dedicated wearable fitness devices among consumers in the United States increased from 3% in 2012 to 9% in 2013. The immense popularity of wearable fitness devices is evident in the trajectory of their reported sales, which increased from $43 million in 2009 to $854 million in 2013.2 Recognizing that “widespread adoption and use of mobile technologies is opening new and innovative ways to improve health,”3 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that “[technologies] that can pose a greater risk to patients will require FDA review.” One popular class of mobile technologies—activity and sleep sensors—falls outside the FDA’s regulatory guidance. To enable continuous monitoring, these sensors often are embedded into wearable devices.

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About Dr. J. Kim

Dr Kim developed (and is continuing to develop) dermatology research news as we way from dermatologists to stay on top of the latest advances in the field of dermatology.

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