health

What Is Toasted Skin Syndrome?

By Annabel Anita Adanna

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I confess: I used to bring my laptop to the toilet, placing it over my upper legs. Apparently, this is a very bad idea. It can cause Toasted Skin Syndrome—which could lead to skin cancer in some cases.

The toasted skin syndrome is not new. It was first observed on people who work close to extreme heat, like the furnace of old locomotives, wood ovens, coal stoves or open fires. It could also be observed on people who abuse heated pads or blankets.

Certainly, that is not the same as bringing the laptop to the toilet and using it over your legs for a few minutes—ok, maybe half hour—but scientists say that it can be dangerous depending on the time and your skin type.

In an article published on the November 5 issue of Pediatrics, Swiss researchers talked about the case of a 12-year-old kid who developed a “sponge-patterned discoloration on his left thigh,” like the one you can see on the left. After studying him, “he recognized that the laptop got hot on the left side” while using it over his legs. Most probably, that’s where the processor was located.

Technically, this condition is called erythema ab igne. According to Dr. Jeffrey Benabio,

Toasted skin syndrome is a red, brown rash that develops as a result of prolonged exposure to heat without an actual burn. The redness develops in a particular pattern, as seen in the photo, called reticulate or net like. Slowing of blood flow in the affected area, called hemostasis, is likely the cause.

The Swiss doctors also call it laptop-induced dermatosis, and the effects could go as far as permanent darkening of the skin. In rare cases, it could lead to skin cancer. Doctors said that this could be even worse in kids: “Our patient has had only comparatively shortly used his laptop, which indicates that children’s skin is more sensitive to heat.”


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