Can Heat from a Laptop Permanently Discolor Your Skin?

A laptop is designed to sit on your lap, right? Who would ever believe that such a device could be dangerous to the very place it was intended to rest – your lap! I know, I know – very few of you out there actually ever place the device there, anyway. It’s kind of difficult to type that way, eh? I personally have only rarely ever used my laptops in this manner. It’s just not comfortable. Comfort – or lack thereof – isn’t the only issue you could face by resting your machine on your legs. You could actually hurt yourself.

If you thought that your laptop could never harm your skin over time, you are sadly mistaken. The odds are actually much higher than you would guess. Balancing your laptop on your knees could cause permanent discoloration of the skin. The heat generated by the computers can cause a nettle sting-like rash – a condition named ‘toasted skin syndrome’.

In a recent case, a twelve-year-old boy suddenly developed a weird sponge-patterned skin discoloration on his left thigh after playing various computer games every day. He played on the laptop, balancing it on his knees for a few hours at a time. “He recognized that the laptop got hot on the left side, however, regardless of that, he did not change its position,” Swiss researchers wrote in the medical-journal Pediatrics.

The temperature underneath a laptop can reach up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit (52C). When looked at under a microscope, affected skin will often resemble skin damaged by long-term sun exposure. Researchers are saying that in some rare instances, prolonged exposure to this type of skin damage from a notebook can cause cancer.

Toasted Skin Syndrome can also effect people involved in professions whose jobs involve being exposed to heat, such as with firemen, bakers and silversmiths. Major computer makers (Apple, Dell and HP) warn in their operations manuals that you should avoid placing your laptop directly onto exposed skin for extended periods to protect against possible burns.

The next time you actually need to place your laptop in your lap, consider using a cushion or desk made to help keep you safe.