Overpriced, fancy computer cases often include a vent on the bottom so that heat from a laptop can escape, which in return helps stop the computer from over heating and crashing. But could these cases come in use for something much more serious?

According to an article by the Associated Press, there have been cases of “toasted skin syndrome,” a unique -looking skin condition caused by “long-term heat exposure,” such as heat from a laptop.

One study consisted of a 12-year-old boy who noticed this skin condition on his left thigh after playing games on a computer only a few hours a 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 of Pediatrics, according to the Associated Press.

A Virginia law student also contracted this condition after noticing a discoloration on her leg. She soon realized that she spent six hours a day with her laptop on her legs. The laptop temperature reached up to 125 degrees.  These two cases are “one of 10 lap-top related cases reported in medical journals in the past six years” according to Associated Press.

Heating pads, and other sources whose heat is not strong enough to cause burns, can also cause the “toasted skin syndrome.”  In extremely rare cases, it can cause some skin damage, which could potentially lead to skin cancer.

Although there is no record of laptop use causing skin cancer, physicians suggest that “to be safe, placing a carrying case or other heat shield under the laptop if you have to hold it in your lap,” according to Swiss researches, Drs. Andreas Arnold and Peter Itin from the University Hospital Basel.

“That’s just really shocking. I always put it on my lap and don’t think twice about it,” said Alicia Masecci ’13.

According to Dr. Kimberly Salkey, an assistant dermatology professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, “under the microscope, the affected skin resembles skin damaged by long-term sun exposure.” Although “toasted skin syndrome” usually occurs with people whose profession is closely related with high temperatures of heat such as glass blowers and bakers, it is now being connected to the heat of laptops.

While the syndrome may put damaged skin cells at a risk for w cell skin cancer, it is not likely that laptop use would lead to cancer since it is easy to avoid skin contact with your laptop for hours at a time, according to Dr. Anthony J. Mancini, dermatology chief at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

“It gets hot after about an hour, then I usually put it on a desk. It’s a habit that it’s on my lap. It’s more comfortable,” said Peter Barbieri ’14.

“I’ve never seen it happen or known someone who has dealt with it but I have heard people say that it does hurt to leave it on your lap,” he added.

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