Monday, October 4, 2010

Toasted Skin Syndrome

picture from google image

Have you ever worked on your laptop computer with it sitting on your lap, heating up your legs? If so, you might want to rethink that habit.

Doing it a lot can lead to "toasted skin syndrome", an unusual-looking mottled skin condition caused by long-term heat exposure, according to medical reports.

In one recent case, a 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discolouration on his left thigh after playing computer games a few hours every day for several months.

"He recognised that the laptop got hot on the left side; however, regardless of that, he did not change its position," Swiss researchers reported in an article published today in the journal Pediatrics.

Another case involved a Virginia law student who sought treatment for the mottled discolouration on her leg.

Dr Kimberley Salkey, who treated the young woman, was stumped until she learnt the student spent about six hours a day working with her computer propped on her lap. The temperature underneath registered 51 degrees.

That case, from 2007, is one of 10 laptop-related cases reported in medical journals in the past six years.

The condition also can be caused by overuse of heating pads and other heat sources that usually aren't hot enough to cause burns.

It's generally harmless but can cause permanent skin darkening. In very rare cases, it can cause damage leading to skin cancers, said the Swiss researchers, Drs Andreas Arnold and Peter Itin from University Hospital Basel.

They do not cite any skin cancer cases linked to laptop use, but suggest, to be safe, placing a carrying case or other heat shield under the laptop if you have to hold it in your lap.

Salkey, an assistant dermatology professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said that under the microscope, the affected skin resembles skin damaged by long-term sun exposure.

Major manufacturers including Apple, Hewlett Packard and Dell warn in user manuals against placing laptops on laps or exposed skin for extended periods of time because of the risk of burns.

A medical report several years ago found that men who used laptops on their laps had elevated scrotum temperatures. If prolonged, that kind of heat can decrease sperm production, which can potentially lead to infertility. Whether laptop use itself can cause that kind of harm has not been confirmed.

In the past, "toasted skin syndrome" has occurred in workers whose jobs require being close to a heat source, including bakers and glass blowers, and, before central heating, in people who huddled near potbellied stoves to stay warm.

Dr Anthony Mancini, dermatology chief at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said he had treated a boy who developed the condition from using a heating pad "hours at a time" to soothe a thigh injured in soccer.

He said he had also seen a case caused by a hot water bottle.

He noted that chronic, prolonged skin inflammation could potentially increase the chances of squamous cell skin cancer, which is more aggressive than the most common skin cancer.

But he said it was unlikely that computer use would lead to cancer since it was so easy to avoid prolonged close skin contact with laptops.

p/s i used to put my laptop on my lap for severaal hours but after reading this articles i will always remind myself not to do it anymore. the word cancer really scare me off. thanks to the doctor who has made this valuable research.

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Nonoy said...

Guess we don't have to use laptop on our laps, despite the purpose of it. hehe;-) But I think laptops are only advisable to use on your lap for a very short period of time. You cant use it for hours otherwise it would cause back pains and strain to the muscles.

Good post Waliz. as usual Ki$$ess for you. !! Mwuah!!;-)

waliz said...

nonoy, i used to put a laptop on my lap and at the same time watching tv! can u believe that hahaha..but i guess the waiting to load one page is too boring thats why..i hope my internet broadnet will getting faster soon!!

joanna.elherro said...

u know you're living in a technology driven world when...

Julie said...

I just heard this story a few days ago and now here! Very interesting...the problems thechnology causes! Wow, time to buy laptop tables for christmas!

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