By Fiona Macrae
Resting laptops on bare legs can lead to ‘toasted skin syndrome’, warn doctors
Balancing your laptop on your knees could be bad for your skin, doctors have warned.
The heat generated by the ubiquitous devices can cause ‘toasted skin syndrome’ – a nettle sting-like rash that can cause permanent discolouration and, in rare cases, cancer.
In one recent case, a 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discolouration on his left thigh after playing computer games for a few hours every day for several months.
Another case involved an American law student with a mottled discolouration on her leg.
Her doctors was stumped until they learned the student spent about six hours a day working with her computer propped on her lap.
placed under the microscope, the affected skin resembled skin damaged by long-term sun exposure.
And, in very rare cases, it can cause damage leading to skin cancers, said the Swiss researchers, Andreas Arnold and Peter Itin, of the University Hospital Basel.
The researchers advise anyone who is concerned about the syndrome to place their laptop carry case under the computer, to shield the body from the heat generated.
Other simple options include resting the machine on a desk or table.
This is not the first time the machines have been subject to a health alert, with warnings that frequent use could hamper male fertility.
Working with a laptop balanced on the thighs raises the temperature of sperm by up to 3C – enough to trigger fertility problems.
Dr Yefim Sheynkin, who led the research at the Sate University of New York and Stony Brook, warned that repeated warming over a period of years could cause irreversible damage.