If you find yourself applying your hot water bottle directly to your skin or you’re often guilty of using your laptop on bare legs, you are at risk of a condition called ‘toasted skin syndrome’.
According to Healthline, this happens when your skin is exposed to direct heat for longer periods of time. It’s not usually a serious condition but the health experts warn that it has been linked to cancer.
Toasted skin syndrome: what you need to know
The syndrome, which is also known as ‘erythema ab igne’, causes skin discolouration and burning sensations and it occurs when the same patch of skin is repeatedly exposed to a heat source over a long period of time but the heat isn’t quite hot enough to burn the skin.
While it doesn’t sound as serious as sunburn, scientists have compared the skin changes to those that occur when your skin is repeatedly exposed to ultraviolet rays, either from the sun or sunbeds.
Healthline revealed that this syndrome first appeared a long time ago because of wood-burning stoves and working with hot coals and while these aren’t exactly modern risks, we do still run the risk of developing it with modern comforts and behaviours including:
- Prolonged use of a laptop on the thighs
- Seat heaters in cars that are used for 2-4 hours
- Heating pads or hot water bottles
- Space heaters
If you regularly use heating pads and hot water bottles, balance a laptop on your thighs or have heated seats in your car, make sure that you follow precautions to protect your skin such as laptop desks and hot water bottle covers.
The types of cancer toasted skin syndrome puts you at risk of
While this syndrome doesn’t often develop into cancer, there is still a risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous lymphoma.
If you notice any changes to your skin, it’s vital that you speak to your GP or pharmacist for support.