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Consumer Product Safety Commission to Decide Fate of Fitbit Flex

Activity-Monitoring Wristbands and Product Safety

Earlier this year, consumers who had used certain Fitbit wristbands complained of a significant product defect.  Indeed, many wearers of the activity-monitoring wristbands told the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that they caused “severe skin irritations.”  According to a recent article in the New York Times, for the past several weeks the CPSC has been investigating a specific Fitbit product, the Fitbit Flex.  According to the government agency, consumers submitted complaints that the device had caused “blisters, rashes, and other problems.”

While the CPSC has not indicated that a product recall is necessarily in the future, Scott Wolfson, a spokesperson for the Commission, emphasized that the agency “is taking these incident reports involving the Flex seriously.” Even if the CPSC declines to issue a recall for the Fitbit Flex, it could take other actions to help ensure consumer safety.  For instance, the Commission could issue recommendations that would help to correct the problem.  In addition, it could recommend that Fitbit warn users of the Flex about the potential hazards of nickel exposure.  In some cases, wearing the device too tightly might be the cause of the injuries.

Back in February, Fitbit recalled more than one million of its Force wristbands.  The recall was fast-tracked, which gave Fitbit only 20 days to withdraw this product from the market.  Some consumers have also filed lawsuits against the consumer for injuries they sustained from the wristband.  When recalling the Force, the company cited problems with its adhesive, and it also suggested that the skin rashes reported by consumers could have been caused by nickel in the bands.

Nickel Allergy Injury and Symptoms

Nickel is “one of the most common allergens in the United States,” yet our country does not have any regulations about how it can be used in consumer products. Some experts believe the common use of nickel in American products has led to increased nickel sensitivity and more product recalls.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have an allergy to nickel and you are exposed to it, you are likely to have an allergic reaction in the form of contact dermatitis.  In most cases, these reactions will occur anywhere between 12 and 48 hours after you have been exposed to the nickel-containing product, and “the reaction may persist for as long as two to four weeks.”  In most cases, the symptoms will only occur in the area that came into contact with the nickel, but in some cases the contact dermatitis can appear on other parts of the body.

What are symptoms?  The Mayo Clinic identifies the following as signs of a nickel allergy?

  • Rash on the skin;
  • Bumps on the skin;
  • Itching (which can be severe);
  • Redness of the skin;
  • Changes in skin color;
  • Dry skin patches that look like a burn; and
  • Blisters (and, in severe cases, blisters that drain fluid).

It is quite possible that contact dermatitis can lead to infection.  If you have come into contact with a nickel-containing product and have any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to speak with a doctor.   In particular, you should keep in mind that you may have an infection if you are experiencing pain, increasing redness and warmth of the skin, or pus in the area of the contact dermatitis.  Furthermore, if you have sustained injuries as a result of a defective product, you should speak to an experienced product liability lawyer to determine your rights. You may be able to file a claim for financial compensation.

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