Working with a laptop on one's lap for extended periods of time has been found to cause heat damage and skin discoloration in a handful of cases, prompting researchers examining the phenomenon to recommend thermal protection for laptop users and warnings labels on laptop device packaging.
The incidence of skin damage as a result of laptop use is rare: Only 10 cases have been reported since 2004, according to a report published on Monday in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics. Nine of those cases involved skin discoloration, known as "Erythema ab Igne"; the tenth case involved an actual burn.
The condition is sometimes called "toasted skin syndrome," and is commonly seen among elderly patients that use heating pads for prolonged periods. The consequences of the condition have a small chance of being serious.
The report, "Laptop Computer's Induced Erythema ab Igne in a Child and Review of the Literature," by Andreas W. Arnold and Peter H. Itin from the Department of Dermatology at University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, suggests that skin discoloration as a result of prolonged laptop use has the potential to become thermally-induced cancer.