Toasted Skin Syndrome: Causes and Treatment

Toasted skin syndrome is a condition that causes skin discoloration, itching, and burning sensations due to heat. It is uncommon to see someone placing a lap on his or her lap while working with it. Neither is it strange to see someone sitting in front of a heater due to the cold weather while the hot air blows on your body.

These are common things we do and thought of them as harmless. Constant doing of these things will make your skin discolor and have patterns of burn on it, lead to a condition called toasted skin syndrome.

Toasted skin syndrome is a condition that causes your skin to have rashes due to exposure to low heat constantly or for a long period of time. The medical term for toasted skin syndrome is Erythema ab igne (EAI). 

The temperature of this heat is not too high to make your skin burn but you feel burning sensations, itching, rashes and discoloration of your skin. The temperature of the heat is usually 109.4 to 116.6 ° F (43 to 47 ° C).

What makes it so unique is that it creates a pattern that literally looks like a net, and that’s a very unusual thing for someone to see on their own skin as reported by Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D., a dermatologist based in New York City.

This skin condition is not new, in fact it is more common back in the days when people cook with firewood and charcoal stove or stay close to a local fireplace to get warmth. The part of their body exposed to this constant heat gets more darker and they feel the heat inside of them even after they have left the fireplace.

That is toasted skin syndrome. Chefs and cooks who are exposed to heat from cooker or stove for a very long time can experience this skin condition.


Toasted skin syndrome
Toasted skin syndrome

There are many thing we use that can cause this skin discoloration and rashes, some of them are: 

(1) Placing of laptops on the laps while working for a long time
Work settings are changing from on-site to remote working. Most jobs can be done in the comfort of your homes. The laptops used in working are most times places on the lap. Since the batteries and vents are located on the left side of the device, the heat from the laptop affects the left thigh.

(2) Heating pads and hot water bottle
Abdominal pains and other body aches can be reduced by placing heating pad on the affected area. However, prolonged use of this can result to toasted skin syndrome.

(3) Space heater  
A space heater is used to heat or warm up a room or any enclosed area. Most people in cold regions in a bid to warm their bodies can sit very close to these devices and feel the heat directly on their skin. This can cause skin discoloration.

(4) Seat heaters in cars 
Constant and prolonged use of heaters in your cars can put you are risk of developing toasted skin syndrome. Car seat heaters are meant to increase the temperature in the car when the weather is cold.

(5) Stove
This is a known fact as we have seen people whose skin gets discolored when the heat from stoves and cookers get to their skin for a long time.


(1) Heating blankets/ beds

Just like you use a blanket to cover your body when cold naturally, a heating blanket or bed uses an insulated wire which are inserted in the fabrics and they provide heat when turned on. Using these things for a long period of time is an invitation to toasted skin syndrome.

(2) Heated reclining chairs

Heated chairs are infused with heating elements that can rock, vibrate, recline and provide heat and massages when they are turned on. These chairs when used overtime cause toasted skin syndrome.


(1) By removing the heat source
This is the first step towards treating your toasted skin syndrome as it will prevent your skin for getting further burnt and discolored.

After you might have turned off or taken away the cause of the itching and discoloration, the rashes and patterns on your skin will gradually disappear.

If the rashes are still red, it might take hours to disappear. When brown, the discoloration might take days or even weeks. But if the rashes and discoloration have stayed for a long time, they will take a gradual process to dissolve.

 If you still need to work with a laptop, you can get a thick piece of cloth or a protective pad that will prevent the heat from affecting the skin directly or better still, get a table. It is important to note that piercing cannot be carried out in a toasted skin.

(2) Medications
Some medications can be recommended by a dermatologist. A topical chemotherapy treatment called 5-fluorouracil cream is sometimes used to treat chronic cases, and lightening creams as well as laser treatments can help reduce the pigmentation as reported by Dr. Garshick.

(3) Protect yourself from sunlight
Extreme exposure to sunlight can trigger your skin to get more discolored if you have had symptoms of toasted skin syndrome. Always use a sunscreen when going out under the sun.


Exposing your skin constantly to heat sources can result to you having this skin condition. These heat sources can change the fibres and cells in your skin. 
We have taken time to mention some of these equipment that can cause toasted skin syndrome. You can still use them but reduce the length of time the heat directly comes to your skin.
If you notice any changes, stop the usage of the equipment and see your doctor for medical advice.

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