By Amy Devito, Contributor
It’s hard to imagine a day without using a laptop for studying, social networking or surfing the Web. Whether it’s in the library, lecture halls or the residence halls, laptops are littered around campus, usually propped on top of students’ laps.
What students may not be aware of is resting a laptop on their lap and heating up their legs may potentially cause long-term damage to their skin.
Starting college often calls for new gadgets, and laptops are generally at the top of the list. Their portability is beneficial and users are able to plug in and study throughout campus. But with the rise in this mobile technology comes an increase in the number of cases of toasted skin syndrome. Discoloration or darkening of the skin and random splotches are common signs of long term exposure to heat produced by laptops.
According to The Associated Press, a “12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discoloration on his left thigh after playing computer games a few hours every day for several months.” In another case, a Virginia law student sought treatment after she noticed mottled discoloration on her leg. She spent about six hours a day with her computer placed on top of her lap. The temperature under the laptop registered 125 degrees.
There have been 10 laptop related cases reported in medical journals in the past six years.
In rare cases, the effects could even increase the risk of skin cancers, so it is recommended some sort of buffer be placed between the laptop and exposed skin.
“With this new age we have definitely reached ultimate laptop penetration,” Gregg Lichtenstein, medical director of Student Health Services, said. “However, given the fact that it is so rare to contract this disease it shouldn’t be too much of a concern. However, people should realize they need to be conscious of how long they keep their laptop on top of their legs and know to take the laptop off of their laps periodically.”
The emergence of this condition is fairly new but precautions should still be taken, and the risks should not go unnoticed. Major manufacturers such as Apple, Hewlett Packard and Dell warn users in the manuals not to place laptops on laps for extended periods of time because of the possibility of burns.
Additionally, a recent medical report found men who placed laptops on their laps had elevated scrotum temperatures. This kind of heat generated from laptops can actually decrease production of sperm, which can lead to infertility.
Though the likelihood of contracting toasted skin syndrome is low, laptop users are encouraged to be aware of how long they keep their laptop on their lap.