Laptop Thigh or Toasted Skin Syndrome

Recently i came across this photo on facebook,


When I saw Laptop and the picture of the Leg, I got a shock, instantly googled TSS to read about it, This is what I found through various websites, and since almost all of us are Laptop addicts, I felt I must tell everyone about it!

Toasted Skin Syndrome is clinically known as Erythema Ab Igne and commonly known by various names such as ‘laptop thigh’ and ‘hot water bottle rash’ . Swiss doctors also call it ‘laptop-induced dermatosis’ .

It is a repetitive stress injury of the skin caused by frequent and prolonged low level heating. The heat generated by the underside of the machine is enough to cause a nasty rash, especially if used against bare skin for hours at a time.  It causes warming of the skin to a great degree without burning it causes stress to the dermatological layers.

A  red, brown rash that develops as a result of prolonged exposure to heat without an actual burn. The redness develops in a particular pattern, as seen in the photo, called reticulate or net like. Slowing of blood flow in the affected area, called hemostasis, is likely the cause.

This issue came to light particularly after a young boy aged 12 developed a “sponge coloured” patterned discolouration on his upper left thigh, as a result of playing computer games for a few hours every day over a time span of a couple of months.

This condition was first reported in 2004 and was reported as laptop induced dermatitis. It results in permanently discoloured skin and in rare conditions it may also lead to skin cancer.

Who is at risk?

Erythema ab igne was once commonly seen in the elderly who stood or sat closely to open fires or electric heaters; however, erythema ab igne has been reported in both young and elderly individuals. Women have a higher incidence of erythema ab igne than men. Although wide use of central heating has reduced the overall incidence of erythema ab igne, it is still sometimes found in people exposed to heat from other sources such as heating pads, space heaters, hot water bottles, and electronic devices.

People who spend prolonged periods of time studying, reading , or playing games on laptops resting on their upper legs could develop this skin syndrome. Traditionally , this skin condition is common among people often exposed to heat while working (blacksmiths, silversmiths, cooks, etc). And now, people using laptops for long hours, even students and corporate individuals, are facing this.


The prolonged placement of laptop on the thighs results in thermal build of around 44 degrees or more of continous exposure to heat with a lack of ventilation to which the skin responds by developing persistent redness and pigmentation.

Harmful effects

The skin develops a patch which is mottled (caused by local hemostasis – stagnation of blood) and later becomes reticulated erythema (patchy striped erythema) leaving behind pigmentation.

Prolonged and repeated exposure to heat causes a marked redness and discolouration of the skin. Sometimes it will give a blotchy appearance which will appear as toasted skin. Mild itching and burning sensation on the affected area.


First of all, identification of the root cause, i.e., the source of the heat, needs to be identified . If the cause is excess duration of laptop usage, it should be cut down. or place the laptop on a desk or a wooden table.  Also, direct contact of the laptop and the skin should be avoided by placing a barrier in between. laptop coolers are also available. The skin change, if detected early and is mild in nature, can settle on its own without treatment . However, for persistent redness, contact a dermatologist, anti-inflammatory creams can be used. 


It is easily mistaken for a rash. if the source is not removed from contact or appropriate preventable measures are not taken,  the discoloration may become permanent. It may also lead to skin cancer.

Be aware of this syndrome and caution anyone you see using the laptop the wrong way. 

If you want to read more, google it.

These are the articles from which i got all this information:


16 thoughts on “Laptop Thigh or Toasted Skin Syndrome”

  1. Oh wolf! I have noticed a much milder – so far- version of this since keeping a hot water bottle on my legs whilst sitting with the laptop – the house is iceberg cold and it keeps me nice and cosy warm…I guess I shall have to look at alternatives! Thanks for posting about this, an excellent warning to all!

    1. lol the “oh wolf” made me laugh! 😉 I have something like this too on my left thigh,,its very mild..its there since years now… i always thought my left thigh maybe had an awesome blood supply….LOL!! I’m glad i know what it is now before it became too late!! Taking proper precautions!! U also take proper precautions,, place a book between ur thigh and laptop or buy a cooler, or sit with your laptop on ur desk..! u can also sit with a blanket on ur legs 😉 prevention is any day better! takecare! 🙂

  2. No doubt heat can cause this, but the unrecognised and unacceptable source that cause this type of thermal affect is microwave non-ionised radiation emanating out of the Laptop straight into the capillaries, muscle, and thigh bone. The thermal affect boils the RBCs within the capillaries causing them to rupture. I suffer the same from radiation coming out of wireless modems, and routers.

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