Beware of “Laptop Thigh”

It may be called a laptop, but doctors say there could be a price to pay for using it on your lap. The heat generated by the underside of a laptop is enough to cause a nasty rash, especially if used against bare skin for hours at a time. The journal Pediatrics reported the case of a 12-year-old who developed discolored skin after playing games on a laptop for hours. The full name of the condition is erythema and used to be common in people exposed to heat as part of their work, including bakers and silversmiths. It is sometimes seen in elderly patients who use hot water bottles to keep warm, but there are more and more cases showing up in laptop users. Laptops can raise the temperature of parts of their case to above 122º F. If left in contact with skin, this can result in a mottled appearance that doesn’t immediately disappear, even after the machine has been removed. In more serious cases of erythema, the skin can be left darkened, although it’s not normally permanent. Dermatologists say that rashes caused by laptops clear up fairly quickly and there should be no long-term damage as a result. The easiest prevention if you really do find the need to place the laptop on your lap is to use a laptop pad. They're designed not only to provide a layer of protection between the laptop and your lap but also to deflect radiation. Prices for laptop pads run anywhere from $25 to $125.