Laptops can cause skin discoloration on thighs

October 5, 2010

Continued heat exposure from a laptop computer’s warm battery may lead to erythema ab igne (EAI) on the thighs, according to a clinical finding by a pediatric dermatologist.

Danville, Pa. - Continued heat exposure from a laptop computer’s warm battery may lead to erythema ab igne (EAI) on the thighs, according to a clinical finding by a pediatric dermatologist.

Howard Pride, M.D., associate professor in the department of dermatology and pediatrics at Geisinger Medical Center, says that while the pathogenesis of the brown skin discoloration is poorly understood, it is associated with chronic, repeated exposure to moderate heat from an external source.

Dr. Pride found that exposure to a laptop does not need to be long term to cause the condition, which occurs more frequently in women than in men.

The News-Item of Shamokin, Pa., quotes Dr. Pride as saying, “This case demonstrates a newly recognized etiology for EAI. It is important for physicians to be able to recognize novel heat sources as potential causative agents for this entity and to instruct their patients to discontinue such exposure.”

He recommends that laptop users place the computer on a table, which will allow dissipation of heat and better ventilation for the fan. He notes that resting the laptop on the skin for short periods of time causes no problems.