There I sat dumbfounded as the following words came out of my dermatologists mouth “You have Erythema ab igne. It is called toasted skin syndrome otherwise known as skin burn.”
To give you a little background, I was diagnosed around the age of 7 with eczema and being how I have lived in various climates my skin always let me know when it was unhappy. For the most part I have been able to manage the eczema with a series of creams and lotions also with the help of steroid ointments (prescribed by my dermatologist) when my skin became inflamed with no major issue. Once my eczema was under control a new skin issue appeared in my 30’s called perioral dermatitis that appeared around my mouth and under my nose and that has been my latest skin challenge that I have been trying to get a handle on. The dermatitis has been a struggle to deal with as I am still trying to understand what triggers it as it comes at the most random times
So I have been back and forth to dermatologists for the last few years trying to get handle on my perioral dermatitis. So sometime late last year when I happen to see this weird “print” (or sponge-like appearance) on the back of my legs I initially assumed it was my eczema, as I blame everything on it! But the more and more I looked at my legs I was pretty certain this new thing was not ezcema and then the mini panic attack began. Wth could this be on my skin now?
I ended up avoiding Webmd to diagnosis myself (more like scare myself even more) and made an appointment with a dermatologist that I had visited a few years back and was lucky to get in within a couple of days of calling. Once I was in the ofifice the nurse practitioner examined my legs and immediately asked (without any pause) if I had been near any heating source like a warming blanket or laptop. I immediately responded with a “NO” as I was stuck on how bizarre of a question that was as I had no need to put those devices behind my legs!! And who does that?!? Well, after I responded my nurse began to order up a biopsy as now she was concerned it was something else. As I am seeing the needles being laid out on the table (and freaking out at having to potentially be pricked with needles) all of a sudden it dawned on me that the heat source that I use the most is a space heater and then I asked if that would have anything to do with what she was talking about earlier. My nurse yelled “THAT’S IT! We won’t be needing to do a biopsy now. You have Erythema ab igne which is otherwise known as toasted skin syndrome from being near the heat repeatedly.”
“Toasted” is a word I expected to hear when paired with marshmallow or bread rather than skin. Apparently, my constant need for heat (it has to be due to my West Indian roots) bit me in the behind and left it’s mark. Literally. I learned that repeated exposure to heat causes a thermal burn and leaves a fire stain (so to speak) on your skin. In my case my space heater caused hyperpigmentation of my skin (usually you will see blue, purple, or brown marks on your skin) as I stand in front of it when I am cold. The “fire stain” doesn’t hurt or anything (at least mine doesn’t), it just looks weird. However, doctors are seeing more of “toasted skin” cases due to folks resting their electronics in their laps (Webmd refers to it as “laptop-induced dermatosis”).
So ladies, be careful with your laptops, heating blankets (or pads), space heaters and other electronics that radiate heat as they can have an effect on your skin later on.
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