Your laptop’s heat can toast your skin | Toasted Skin Syndrome

What is toasted skin syndrome?

Toasted skin syndrome refers to heat damage leading to a rash where the skin doesn’t get burnt. This syndrome is associated with the use of various sources of heat, including modern gadgets like laptops as well. Medically, it is known as erythema ab igne.

Toasted Skin Syndrome: Your laptop’s heat can toast your skin


The skin hyperpigmentation results from low levels of chronic infrared or heat exposure which causes the skin mottling. There are documented instances where the laptop use has led to this condition.


The symptoms of toasted skin syndrome include:

  • Mild and temporary rash which appears like a fish net or lacework (mottling)
  • The lesions begin as mild pink patches that can later take on a red to the brown reticulated pattern.
  • Some individuals report mild itchiness and burning sensation

Risk Factors

  • People exposed to heat in their workplace like chefs, bakers and blacksmiths, etc.
  • Repeated use of hot water bottle
  • Working for long periods with laptops placed on the lap

Toasted Skin Syndrome: Your laptop’s heat can toast your skin


Your doctor can diagnose toasted skin syndrome by looking at the characteristic skin finding. A skin biopsy can be performed to rule out any skin abnormalities.


Removal and avoidance of the heat source causing the problem is the mainstay of the treatment.

The mild forms often heal on their own in a couple of months, while the advanced cases can linger for years or even be permanent in nature. For addressing the hyperpigmentation, topical tretinoin or lasers can be used.


Simple measures like using a heat barrier between the heat source/laptop and the body can eliminate the cause of this syndrome.


Usually, the skin damage is harmless in nature. However, a chronic exposure has a slight possibility of it developing into cancer.

Next Steps

If you suffer from this syndrome, take measures to protect yourself from the heat source or use appropriate heat guard/heat shield when getting exposed to potential sources of heat.

Consult a top Dermatologist

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  • Skin damage linked with laptops. NHS Choices. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/10October/Pages/Skin-damage-linked-with-laptop-use.aspx. Accessed 28 Nov. 16.
  • Erythema ab igne. New Zealand Dermatological Society. http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/erythema-ab-igne/. Accessed 28 Nov. 16.
  • Erythema Ab Igne. Americal Osteopathic College of Dermatology. http://www.aocd.org/page/ErythemaAbIgne. Accessed 28 Nov. 16.

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