Working from home? Be careful with that laptop!

Erythema ab igne (EAI) is a skin reaction caused by chronic exposure to infrared radiation in the form of heat. It was once a common condition seen in the elderly who stood or sat closely to open fires or electric space heaters.  The condition has reemerged because of the increasing use of laptops.  This will be increasingly prevalent as many people are now working from home.

Laptop Induced Erythema Ab Igne

How does Erythema ab igne occur? Limited exposure to heat, insufficient to cause a direct burn, causes a mild and transient red rash resembling lacework or a fishing net. Prolonged and repeated exposure causes a marked redness and coloring of the skin (hyper- or hypo-pigmentation). The skin and underlying tissue may start to thin (atrophy) and rarely sores may develop. Some patients may complain of mild itchiness and a burning sensation. 

How is it treated? The source of chronic heat exposure must be avoided. If the area is only mildly affected with slight redness, the condition will resolve by itself over several months. If the condition is severe and the skin is pigmented and thin, resolution is unlikely.  Abnormally dark skin may persist for years. Treatment with topical retinoids or laser may improve the appearance but really avoiding the heat exposure in the first place is the best way to prevent Erythema ab igne from happening.

So make sure to not let your laptop sit on your lap for too long or use a pillow or barrier to protect your skin.  

If you are suffering from Erythema ab igne, or have any other skin-related concerns, please reach out to your dermatology provider.

NW Dermatology Institute is now offering telemedicine appointments. If you are interested in speaking with a member of our staff, call 5032231933 or schedule an online appointment at