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The Toasted Leg Syndrome: A Toast For The Skin

In today’s busy bustling world, trying to make two ends meet, is a big task. Trying to the pay the bills is another nerve-racking game. All this needs WORK, WORK and more WORK.
For this generation whose involvement is very huge in the field of media and social networking, majority of their time is spent on devices like tablets, laptops mobiles etc.

Working while travelling and working from home have become very common as the very expensive plastic notebooks every person has, namely the LAPTOPS are accessible to everyone. Press the plastic keys, and viola all of our work is done.
But, are we using these devices, laptops, in a good way? In a way that they are not harming us? Are we aware of what the laptops are doing to our health?

No, we are not discussing here how the computer screen affects our eyes, nor about how sitting for long hours affects us. But something entirely different.
As our lifestyle is changing, the types of health issues are also evolving.

‘Toasted skin syndrome’ does not refer to the healthy glow earned by lying on a tranquil beach. It’s more like a work injury.

The toasted leg syndrome, medically called “erythema ab igne” – is a skin condition that results from direct exposure to high heat. It is similar to a scorch mark an iron leaves on clothes when left unattended. For the past several years, dermatologists have reported that the occurrence of these types of heat marks on their patients who use laptop computers have become more common.
This particular skin condition is named as Laptop Dermatosis.

However, ‘toasted skin syndrome’ does not develop only from devices like laptops. Other materials include heating pads and electric blankets that are left on too long or too hot – against the skin.
Typically, the condition is seen more in chronic use of heated devices against skin,

Usually, the heat given off needs to be in the 111.2 to 116 degree Fahrenheit range to show ill effects, but older, thinner skin of elderly people can develop the condition at lower temperatures of 109 F. Such high temperatures can create little injuries to dangerous skin cancers.

The vasodilation of vessels presents morphologically as the initially observed erythema. Red blood cell extravasion clinically appears as hyperpigmentation. It has been observed that distribution of affected blood vessels, predominantly in the superficial subcutaneous plexus form a reddish-brown webbed pattern or sponge-patterned discoloration.

In one recent case, 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. “He recognized that the laptop got hot on the left side; however, regardless of that, he did not change its position,” Swiss researchers reported in an article published in the journal Pediatrics.
For the male population, there is a clear and negative link between regular exposure to heat and man’s sperm count and quality. The heat radiating from the laptop when kept on the lap will reduce the sperm count. The research links the lessened sperm count to ‘Scrotal Hyperthermia’.
Placing a laptop on the lap increases scrotal temperature by 2.7 degrees Celsius. Sperm concentration is known to drop by 40% with just an increase of just 1 degree Celsius in scrotal temperature. The Wi-Fi radiation from a laptop can also damage sperm DNA and even destroy them.

In the last 3 decades, the sperm count has come down by 59%. A research done in Bangalore, amidst 1000 male IT workers, 998 of them had sperm count less than 50 million. This just gives us a glimpse of the problems of infertility in present and coming generations.

Additionally, skin cancers have a greater chance of developing due these exposures. In fact, dermatology researchers have noticed significant changes microscopically. Dermal changes seen are considerable dermal thinning, decreased fibrous content, and dilated vessels lined by enlarged and irregular endothelial cells with hyperchromatic nuclei. Chronic changes in ‘Erythema ab igne’ may lead to the development of squamous cell carcinoma or, in rare cases, Merkel cell carcinoma.
The risk of malignant transformation is thought to be highest in people exposed to hydrocarbon-fueled heat. Real life incidents like ‘Kangri cancer’ in India caused by wicker baskets filled with hot coals and ‘Turf cancer’ in Irish women caused by standing close to peat fires are 2 best examples.

So, what we need to understand is that ‘TOAST IS FOR BREAD, NOT THE SKIN’. By gaining the knowledge of the ill effects of the heat-radiating laptops, let us put them aside and go out in the natural warmth of the sun and get our lives in to a better shape!



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