Have you noticed that your watchband or bracelet leaves indentations in your skin after you remove it?

Does this alarm you because you think it’s edema – the same kind of edema that can be caused by inadequate pumping of the heart or some malfunction of the kidneys?

Though old skin is more likely to be left with an indentation from a watchband, what if you’re young or even middle aged?

Do any of the following describe you?

• The “edema” is always there, in that no matter when you take your watchband off, the indents are in the skin.

• Other than the indentations in your skin, your skin looks normal. It’s not puffy or swollen.

You may even have thin wrists, but the skin impressions are always there after you remove your watchband.

• You’re not sure if this has always happened. Maybe you’ve noticed it before many years ago, even in childhood, but it never registered on your health anxiety radar till now.

You may get some reassurance by seeing if watchbands leave skin indents on children and teens.

You can also test this idea with a common rubber band around their wrist – instructing them to keep it on for a few hours, then removing it and seeing if there are indents.

If it leaves indentations, the child’s mind will find this fascinating, as in “Wow, cool!”

Funny how a child’s mind works, while the adult will fear edema from a health problem.

Causes of Indentation in Skin from a Watchband or Rubber Band

This happens because the body is 50-60 percent water in a normal sized/weight adult (even greater in an obese person),” says Jenepher Piper, a family practice nurse practitioner for Maryland Family Care for 19 years and a former nurse with Home Care Nurse for Johns Hopkins Home Care.

“Watchbands displace water in the tissue, much like a handprint in a memory foam mattress. Eventually, it works its way out.”

Why is it easier to create indents in older skin?

Piper explains, “Older people’s blood vessels are not as compliant and therefore, more likely to leak due to increased vascular pressure in dependent limbs.

“So the percentage of fluids in their hands/wrists, feet/ankles will be more than a younger person.”

Can the indents left by a watchband ever be caused by a medical problem?

“Yes but uncommon,” says Piper. The “mechanism is via increased vascular pressure (blood pressure).

Don’t let that last piece of data throw you into a panic. Re-read this post for reassurance.

Do the watchband skin indent test on teens and younger kids for extra reassurance.

Nurse PiperPatients suffering from conditions such as coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes turn to Nurse Practitioner Piper to help them best manage their overall health.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.