Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

17 October 2015

New Skin Disorders on the Rise Due to Excessive Use of Modern Gadgets

A disorder called "WhatsAppitis"
is being induced by overuse of a
message app on smartphone,
according to a foreign medical
journal.
"More and more children are coming up with complaints of skin rash following usage of laptops. In the past erythema ab igne was more commonly seen in elderly people exposed to heat but now people using laptops for long hours, even schoolchildren, college students and corporate individuals are facing this. " 

[No mention of electromagnetic radiation, but the article, written by a dermatologist, is a good one.]

Save your skin from smartphones
by Vikas Sharma, tribuneindia.com, 22 August 2015

As technology makes rapid advances, many new skin disorders are on the rise because of excessive usage of modern gadgets

If technology has made life easier in many aspects, it has brought its own pitfalls too. Though it is difficult to imagine today’s life without gadgets like smartphones and tablets but their prolonged and incorrect usage can result in many skin and cosmetic disorders.

Modern technology may have given us many advanced gadgets for our benefit but one needs to be aware of the correct method of their usage otherwise it can create numerous health problems. Many latest scientific studies have found the harmful effects of these techno gadgets on the skin, the largest and outermost organ of our body.

There has been a steady rise in cases of skin and cosmetic disorders among those tech-savvy people who use gadgets like smartphones, tablets, iPads, etc. frequently and for prolonged duration.

New skin cosmetic disorders called "smartphone face” and “tech neck” have been discovered in people who spend long periods of time on their smartphones, tablets and other such gadgets.

This is not for the first time that some new disorders linked with modern gadgets have been reported. There has been a rise in cases of laptop-thigh syndrome. Another disorder called “WhatsAppitis” induced by overuse of a message app on smartphone was reported in a foreign medical journal last year.

As use of smartphones increase and more and more people spent more time on it, they keep their head bent down and forward for hours and hours to look at their phones and tablets. This causes neck muscles to be shortened, thereby increasing the gravitational pull on the skin. Ultimately, this results in sagging skin, double chin, marionette lines (vertical lines from lips to chin) and loose jowls (drooping jawline). All these signs have been collectively labelled medically as "smartphone face".

Frequent use of smartphones, tablets and laptops may also bring out early signs of ageing like etched lines, wrinkles, double chin and loose skin.

Another condition ‘tech neck’ refers to a specific crease just above the collar bone that is caused by repeated bending of the neck to look at the screen of a portable device. The ‘tech neck’ happens when people look down at their laptops or phones too often and for too long and the skin of neck gives the appearance of mature and older skin.

The problem of wrinkles and sagging of the jowls and neck normally used to start during middle age or later but in the last two to three years it has become a major problem in the younger age group between 18 and 35years because of the tech neck.

A surprisingly rapid rise in chin and jaw-focused cosmetic non-invasive skin treatments led to this discovery. Over the past two to three years, there has been a steady increase in the number of youngsters opting for skin tightening procedures around chin and jaw, especially in the U.S. and UK. In India a similar pattern is expected to emerge soon.

A prolonged use of these gadgets can affect you posture in the long run. Experts advise:

· Don’t constantly keep your head down.
· Hold your smartphone or tablet up to look at it so your chin stays parallel to the ground.
· Try and allocate some time away from your phone or such gadgets so that you can give your neck a bit of a rest.’

Research also suggests that prolonged use of mobile phones can cause also skin allergies, apart from affecting your posture.

Those instruments which have nickel and cobalt in their body can cause what is known as cellphone dermatitis. These are mostly phones which have a metallic sheen on them. These metals can react with the skin and cause an itchy rash. The best way to avoid this is to use a phone cover, talk on hands-free mode and keep the conversations short so that the skin isn’t in contact with the phone for too long.

In mobile phone dermatitis, the rash can typically occur on the cheek or ear, depending on where the metal part of the phone comes into contact with the skin. It could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons.

With the new-generation smaller laptops rapidly replacing the desktop computers, it has also led to a rise in the number of cases presenting with a skin disorder called laptop thigh syndrome. This condition is a persistent stress injury of the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin caused by frequent and prolonged low-level heating.

People, who spend long periods of time reading, studying, or playing games on laptops resting on their thighs, are the ones who develop this skin disorder called laptop thigh syndrome which is a subset of a dermatological condition, a skin disorder called “Erythema ab igne”.

Though the laptop manufacturers proudly show off models in some advertisements working on these machines placed on the bare skin of thighs but copying these acts in real life can cause massive damage to the skin. The new-generation laptops have highly powerful processors fitted in a razor thin chassis on their underside. The manufacturers highlight this feature as the machine’s beneficial feature. But in fact, it has a more harmful impact on the skin.

The alarming sign is that more and more children are coming up with complaints of skin rash following usage of laptops. In the past erythema ab igne was more commonly seen in elderly people exposed to heat but now people using laptops for long hours, even schoolchildren, college students and corporate individuals are facing this. The repetitive stress injury to the skin layers is the consequence of the heat generated by the underside of the machine which when placed for prolonged period on the thighs results in thermal build-up of around 50 degrees. The persistent exposure to this thermal build-up in addition to lack of ventilation causes persistent redness and pigmentation on the skin. The skin develops a mottled patch (caused by local hemostasis – stagnation of blood) which later becomes reticulated erythema (patchy striped erythema) finally leaving behind disfiguring pigmentation.

So be aware of the manner in which you use your laptops and also caution others who use their laptop in a wrong way. Always have a barrier which can act as a buffer like a cooling pad or a wooden pad between your thighs and laptop.

Be aware

The European and American Association of Dermatologists has warned doctors around the world to be aware of the harmful effects of modern gadgets on skin, which is rapidly on the rise. Because the harmful dermatological effects in many cases may go unreported or untreated, this has prompted the scientists to share their findings.

- Both men and women are at equivalent risk of developing ‘smartphone face’, ‘tech neck’ and ‘laptop thigh syndrome’.
- Women have a higher risk of developing ‘mobile phone dermatitis’ and ‘whatsappitis’.
- Given the widespread use of cell phones, the presence of metal in the exterior casing of these phones and the high prevalence of nickel sensitisation in the population, it is not surprising that cell phones are causing allergic contact dermatitis. Those with the more fashionable designs often have metallic accents and are more likely to contain free nickel in their casings.
- Consult a dermatologist immediately when suspecting an allergic reaction. If you are unsure that your cellphone or tablet contains nickel, there is a test to detect nickel. Within 15 seconds, you can tell if your phone or tablet contains nickel. Simply place a few drops of the Di-Methyl-Glyoxime (DMG) solution onto a cotton swab and rub the metal area that will come in contact with your skin. If the swab turns a pink/red colour, nickel is present. Please take protective measures. This nickel test is very sensitive and it detects even very low concentrations of nickel.

— The writer is a dermatologist, National Skin Hospital, Panchkula

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