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How a laptop PC can lead to 'toasted skin syndrome'

By David Silverberg     Oct 4, 2010 in Technology
A laptop left on your thighs for too long can result in the oddly named "toasted skin syndrome", according to a report published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Ever felt a notebook PC on your lap getting too hot and starting to burn your upper thighs? This overheating can lead to skin damage, say Swiss researchers Drs. Andreas Arnold and Peter Itin from University Hospital Basel. Their report in Pediatrics labeled a new kind of skin problem when laptops burn a person's skin, usually their lap: "toasted skin syndrome."
As MSNBC reports, "under the microscope, the affected skin resembles skin damaged by long-term sun exposure." This term is often cited for injuries suffered by glass blowers and bakers, where they often work very close to a heat source.
More often than not, overheating laptops don't cause major damage but in rare cases, it can be painful: in one case cited by the researchers, a 12-year-old boy noticed a sponge-patterned skin discoloration on his thigh after playing computer games a few hours every day for several months. He later found out the damage was due to his laptop's heat.
It's not like the major manufacturers aren't aware of the problem. Apple, Hewlett Packard, Dell and others warn in user manuals against "placing laptops on laps or exposed skin for extended periods of time because of the risk for burns," MSNBC says.
In July, Argentine researchers suspected hot laptops may be negatively affecting male fertility. The researchers advises men to avoid holding laptop computers on their legs.
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