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Working From Home Could Be Giving You Toasted Skin Syndrome

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Working From Home Could Be Giving You Toasted Skin Syndrome

If you're a regular on TikTok, you may have noticed people talking about a condition called Toasted Skin Syndrome - also referred to as Erythema Ab Igne.

The condition occurs after your skin is exposed to a heat source for a prolonged period - for example, holding a hot water bottle on your stomach, draping a heated blanket over your arms and legs (a go to while working from the sofa) sitting with a warm laptop on your legs, or even sitting too close to a heater.

In fact, the term Erythema Ab Igne actually translates to 'redness from fire' in Latin.

It can also happen after using a hot water bottle (Credit: Shutterstock)
It can also happen after using a hot water bottle (Credit: Shutterstock)
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Over the last year, hundreds of thousands of Brits have had to switch up their routine, ditching their office based jobs to work from home.

And swapping the desk to work from the sofa could be a reason why there's an uptick of Toasted Skin Syndrome in recent months. After all, many of us sit with our laptops on our knees for long periods of time, and raise your hand if you've reached for the hot water bottle recently instead of blasting the central heating all day?!

*Raises hand*...

In fact, a report published by the National Institutes of Health in 2020 - called 'Perils of Technology - Laptop Induced Erythema Ab Igne (Toasted Skin Syndrome) on Abdomen' revealed that a whopping 90 per cent of cases of Toasted Skin Syndrome occur on the legs and thighs.

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So what exactly is it? What does it look like? And how can you stop it from happening?

It's not a burn, but a blotchy rash caused by intense heat (Credit: Shutterstock)
It's not a burn, but a blotchy rash caused by intense heat (Credit: Shutterstock)

Well, it's important not to get it mixed up with a burn. It's not a burn, but a rash caused by intense heat.

Dr Shaaira Nasir, Consultant Dermatologist at sk:n, told Tyla: "Toasted skin syndrome is also known as Erythema Ab-Igne. It is caused by the skin being exposed to direct heat.

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"It's a condition that is usually seen in elderly people who sit near open fires, people who put laptops on their laps for extended periods of time, or people who have direct skin contact with hot water bottles.

"It is not dangerous, but it can cause itching and burning. It presents itself as a lace patterned rash/redness or in a fishnet appearance.

A whopping 90 per cent of cases of Toasted Skin Syndrome occur on the legs and thighs (Credit: Shutterstock)
A whopping 90 per cent of cases of Toasted Skin Syndrome occur on the legs and thighs (Credit: Shutterstock)

"It can happen to anyone, but if you want to reduce the chance of developing it, you need to avoid the source of chronic heat.

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"The condition will usually resolve within a few months unless there has been extensive damage. In severe cases you can get prolonged pigmentation and loss of fat causing the skin to dip."

Dr Nasir also recommended using a topical tretinoin or laser therapy which may improve appearance.

And it's not just tech that can cause Erythema Ab Igne. Many women who suffer from painful period cramps, or endometriosis, often suffer from Toasted Skin Syndrome due to increased use of heat pads and hot water bottles.

Speaking about the condition on Twitter, one sufferer explained: "It's been a couple of months since I've been going on with my hot water bottle routine. So I started noticing some dark marks between my inner thighs, which is where I place my water bottle most times, but I thought it was all in my head, I just haven't been paying attention," one person wrote.

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"Until the dark marks became more visible. I then searched the net for any possible reasons and found out it's because of the prolonged exposure to heat of the water bottle. The dark marks are known as the "hot water bottle rash" but scientifically known as 'Erythema ab igne'."

Using a heated blanket for a prolonged period can also cause Toasted Skin Syndrome (Credit: Shutterstock)
Using a heated blanket for a prolonged period can also cause Toasted Skin Syndrome (Credit: Shutterstock)

Meanwhile another added: "Been dealing with some insanely painful bloating all afternoon and now I've got erythema ab igne from the heating pad."

Of course, if you do experience Toasted Skin Syndrome and you are concerned - or the rash becomes severe - please do consult a doctor or dermatologist.

This has definitely made us think twice about working from the sofa - but if you really struggle to work at a desk, it's definitely worth using a cushion as a barrier between your legs and your laptop.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Topics: Life News, Health, Skincare

Lucy Devine
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