Fitbit has recalled its popular activity-tracking wristband, the Fitbit Force, after a number of customers complained of serious skin rashes, blisters and peeling skin after wearing the device.
Fitbit announced on Friday that it has stopped selling the Force and is recalling all previously sold Fitbit Forces, which have been on the market for just four months. After The Huffington Post and others last month reported customer complaints of severe skin irritation, Fitbit hired independent labs and medical experts to test the devices. They found the device caused skin problems for 1.7 percent of wearers. Fitbit will refund Fitbit Force owners the full retail value of their devices.
"On behalf of the entire Fitbit team, I want to apologize to anyone affected," CEO James Park said in an open letter to customers.
Fitbit has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the public's growing appetite for "wearable" devices to monitor physical well-being. Startups like Fitbit and Jawbone, along with established players such as Nike and Samsung, have competed to sell wristbands and clip-on devices that can track such data as calories burned and hours slept.
Fitbit leads the pack in wearable bands, selling more wristbands than any other company during the second half of 2013, according to analysts at Canalys.
In an email, the company said that skin irritation was likely the result of an allergic reaction to "materials" in the device. After apologizing and offering a refund to affected customers last month, Fitbit said the rashes and peeling skin may have been caused by sensitivity to the device's elastic band, to nickel in its stainless steel or to bacteria that may accumulate on the band.