The most positive benefit of using a laptop computer is its compactness and portability. Many people use the computer right in their laps, but arenâ€™t aware that this could cause burns and other skin damage due to long-term heat exposure.
Long-Term Heat Exposure Can Cause Skin Damage
Swiss researchers reported on what they have termed â€śtoasted skin syndromeâ€ť, or an unusual-looking mottled skin appearance related to the heat that emits from the base of the laptop. Temperatures there can reach around 125 degrees.
The American Academy of Pediatrics journal issued this month has found about 10 laptop-related cases from medical journals in the past six years. In one case report, a 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discoloration on his left thigh after playing computer games for a few hours every day for several months. A second described a Virginal law student who spent six hours a day working with her computer in her lap.
Toasted Skin Syndrome does not only occur with laptop use. The condition has also been described in those who overuse heating pads, hot water bottles, and other heat sources that arenâ€™t hot enough to cause burns, but can cause permanent skin darkening. In very rare cases, according to Drs. Andreas Arnold and Peter Itin from University Hospital Basel, it can lead to skin cancer due to chronic, prolonged skin inflammation.
Another consequence of lap computer use is a possibility of reduced fertility in men. Several years ago, a medical report found that men who used laptops had elevated scrotum temperatures which can decrease sperm production.
Dermatologists recommend using a carrying case or heat shield under the laptop if you must hold it in your lap.