Your laptop on your lap: Not a good combination

July 30, 2015

Nowadays, we work just about anywhere. From a corner table in Starbucks, to a big office on Main Street. More and more people are working from home or wher- ever and thus use their porta- ble laptops any kind of way. But actually putting them on your lap could do some dam- age. The prolonged placement of laptop on the thighs re- sults in the thermal build of around 44 degrees of heat to which the skin responds by developing persistent red- ness and pigmentation. This has been reported in medical literature between 2004 to date.

“The skin develops a patch which is mottled (caused by local hemostasis — stagna- tion of blood) and later be- comes reticulated erythema (patchy striped erythema) leaving behind pigmenta- tion,” says Cosmeto-derma- tologist Dr Swati Srivastava. He also warns that repeat- ed skin exposure can waste tissues, typically due to the degeneration of cells. If there is a persistent soreness that does not heal, a skin bi- opsy should be performed to rule out the possibility of skin cancer.

The heat emitted from the portable computers has been cited to have a similar effect on men as taking hot baths. News sources advise young boys and men of child rearing age to abstain from or closely monitor the amount of time they spend with a laptop sitting on the lap. Putting a laptop on your lap is not only bad for your skin, but it’s also bad for your computer because it can par- tially or completely inhibit the exhaust fan, which can lead to overheating. Women are not exempt from the negative effects of putting a computer on the lap. Other articles talk about a condition known as… toasted leg syndrome.

Toast- ed legs syndrome is an and usual looking skin condition where the skin on the legs look molted and discolored. The skin turns an unattract- ive brown color. According to researchers at the Univer- sity Hospital Basel in Swit- zerland, a laptop computer causes dermatosis, which is a permanent skin tan. Al- though rare, in some cases sitting a laptop on your lap for long periods of time can cause skin cancer Treatment and remedies First of all, identification of the root cause, i.e., the source of the heat, needs to be identified. If it is excess duration of laptop usage, it should be cut down. Also, direct contact of the laptop and the skin should be avoid- ed by placing a barrier in be- tween. Many online retailers have laptop coolers available. The skin change, if detected early and is mild in nature, can settle on its own with- out treatment. For persistent redness, anti-inflammatory creams can be used. For pigmentary changes, addition of topical tretinoin (a drug related to retinol or vitamin A) cream may be mandatory. In some cases, one may require laser thera- py.