Laptops Users in the Hot Seat

They may be called laptops, but a lap is probably not the best place for them.

A new health risk has surfaced involving the use of laptops on bare skin and it is called “toasted skin syndrome.”

Toasted skin syndrome is “an unusual-looking mottled skin condition caused by long-term heat exposure”, according to medical reports. The disease was noticed in people that work in front of open fires or coal stoves.

But now laptop users who use laptops as they were intended – on their laps – are susceptible to the same disease.

The left leg of this patient was "toasted" by their laptop resting on their lap. Photo courtesy of

Researchers, Andreas W. Arnold and Peter H. Itin, from the University Hospital Basel, in Switzerland wrote in the November 5 issue of Pediatrics Journal that the temperature of 111.2 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to cause toasted skin syndrome.

“Computer-induced lesions are typically found on only one leg because the optical drives of laptops are located on the left side,” said the researchers.

Photo courtesy of

So far, there have only been 10 reported cases of the condition, officially called erythema ab igne.

The youngest case was documented in a 12-year-old boy who kept his laptop on his lap for as many as six to eight hours a day while playing computer games. The boy “recognized that the laptop got hot on the left side, however, he did not change its position,” Arnold and Itin reported.

With the increased use of laptops in Penn Manor classrooms, toasted leg syndrome might be “catching on” here.  However most students use their laptops on a desk and are not concerned.

“I’m not worried about it,” said senior Erika Roop.

Sophia Wu-Shanley, also a senior, isn’t worried about toasted skin syndrome either.

“Laptops don’t heat up fast. It shouldn’t be shocking if it burns you,” said Wu-Shanley.

“Generally I have it on a lap desk,” said Helen Hutchins, a senior. “I’m careful.”

“Use your common sense. If it’s hot, take it off your lap,” said senior Amy Wagner.

Arnold and Itin are predicting an increase of this diagnosis in the near future.

By Cassie Funk and Christa Charles

2 thoughts on “Laptops Users in the Hot Seat”

  1. owww… I’ll think twice before putting my laptop on my lap, after reading this.

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