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Laptops Can Lead To Skin Damage

October 4, 2010

Medical experts have found that laptops can cause long-term heat exposure when left sitting on a lap.

A 12-year-old boy developed a sponge-patterned skin discoloration on his left thigh after playing computer games a few hours each 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 Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Another case found that a Virginia law student sought treatment for the mottled discoloration on her leg.

Dr. Kemberley Salkey, who treated the student, found that the student spent about six hours a day working on her computer propped on her lap.  A laptop’s temperature can reach 125 degrees.

That case is one of 10 laptop-related cases reported in medical journals in the past six years.

The Swiss researchers said that laptops are not hot enough to cause burns, but can cause permanent skin darkening. 

Saley told The Associated Press the affected skin resembles skin damaged by long-term sun exposure when looked at under a microscope.

Companies like Apple, Hewlett Packard and Dell all warn in user manuals against placing laptops on laps or exposed skin for extended periods of time because of the risk for burns.

An older medical report found that men who used laptops on their laps had elevated scrotum temperatures.  The kind of heat can decrease sperm production, which could potentially cause infertility.

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