Spending long hours on the laptop for whatever reason does not matter it could lead to “toasted skin syndrome”.
The heat which is produced from the bottom of the laptop is an adequate amount to cause a rash. Especially if it is against upper part of bare legs for hours. This skin syndrome appears as a brownish discoloring of the skin.
Toasted Skin Reported Cases
Most recently a case of a twelve year old boy which appears in Pediatrics calls attention to this syndrome. Researchers from Switzerland had reported the case of the boy who had a sponge patterned discoloration on his left thigh. He had played computer games on his laptop a few hours each day for several months with the laptop resting on his upper thighs. The boy did state he knew the left side bottom of laptop was getting hot however, this did not interfere with his game playing or even changing positions.
A dermatologist from the United Kingdom has stated that there are no lasting health effects from this rash.
Erythema ab igne aka toasted skin
The conditions name Erythema ab igne now called toasted skin. This condition has been seen in before in the lower legs of patients that had worked in front of coal stoves like silversmiths or open fires such as bakers. It sometimes occurs in the elderly that keep their water bottles a little to warm.
Currently it is being seen in persons who use laptops. The heat in which emerges from the laptops optical drive, battery or ventilation causes this condition. Toasted skin can end up producing permanent darkening of the skin and in rare cases can lead to skin cancer.
Laptops temperature of parts of their can can raise higher than 50 degrees Celsius. Researchers state that mild to average heat between 109.4 to 111.2 degrees Fahrenheit is just the right temperature to cause toasted skin syndrome.
Researchers note that this rash is usually located on one leg due to the fact the optical drives of laptops are located on the left side. When the laptop is positioned on the lap it can totally or partially restrict the ventilation fan exhaust.
If the laptop is left on the lap in direct contact with the skin it can produce a mottled appearance which will remain even after the laptop is off the lap and will not immediately disappear.
Research state that ten reported cases of patients had the rash on one or both of their upper legs which had developed after a period of several weeks or months of using the laptop for six to eight hours a day.
Other reported cases of toasted skin have been noted in medical journals that had included the case of a law student who had rested her laptop on her upper legs for six hours a day.
Researchers recommend to prevent this condition use heat protection such as the laptop carrying case placed between the body and laptop.
Dr. Bav Shergill, a dermatologist who consults at Brighton University Hospitals NH Trust states that if persons develop a rash there is no reason for alarm, it should disappear in a very short time period. Discoloration should clear up quickly.
Regards to the future
Researchers state that due to the increase popularity of laptops, it is certain there will be more cases diagnosed in the immediate future. They note that the twelve year old had used his laptop short term. This means that children whose skin is more sensitive to heat should be taken into consideration. Parents should take this into consideration when buying laptops for their children.
Researchers are also suggesting that laptop computers have a warning label attached making consumers aware of possible skin problems the devices can produce. There are some well known computer manufactures that are already attaching a warning label to their laptops. Dell and Apple are putting the warnings in their user manuals already.
Treatment for toasted skin
Aqueous cream is a moisturizing cream that is used for various skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. It is totally non-greasy and is fairly inexpensive which does not require a prescription. The cream puts a layer of oil on the skin surface that aides the water to not evaporate which is on the skin. This cream is made from water and emulsifying cream which softens the skin. Depending on how dry this skin has become is dependent on how often to apply the cream. For really dried out skin apply every couple of hours with a very thin layer at nighttime.
Aloe Vera heals skin and moisturizes. Apply to affected area. Can be used as a lotion, oil or gel.
Some oils that you can use for dry skin:
Almond penetrates the skin very well.
Avocado oil contains a heavy emollient in which aides in prevention of water escaping the skin. It takes a little while for it to penetrate skin but it will penetrate deeply into skin.
Borage oil will revive the skin cells. Dilute oil at ten percent.
Castor Oil is high in emollients and softens rough dry skin.
Coconut oil is great to soften skin, it penetrates the skin and is high in emollients.
Evening Primrose is an emollient, soothes and heals skin. Repairs the damaged skin.
Kukui works great on heat induced skin burns. It is loaded with emollients and is non-greasy. Due to the fact it will quickly absorb into the skin it will leave the dry skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated. It penetrates deep into skin guarding it to lock in the moisture.
Shea Butter can be used by itself and very high in emollients
Avoid toasted skin syndrome
Use a cushion between the bottom of laptop and and upper legs.
Lay down on floor and put pressure on shoulders, back, neck and wrists.
Safest option use laptop on desk or table as long as screen is at eye level.
In bed sitting up and putting pressure on back and neck. Blanket is over you so laptop is resting on top of it.
Purchase a cooling pad to use underneath laptop.
BBC News Health