Two recent reports in the journal Archives of Dermatology warn that prolonged exposure to the heat from those nice warm car seats can lead to a condition called toasted skin syndrome (the medical term is called erythema ab igne, or EAI for short).
The research studied two women using heated car seats while traveling for 45 minutes or more and found that the heat caused rusty brown patches on the back of the subjects’ thighs. “It probably occurs because of changes in your blood vessels and pigment cells when heat is pressed against them,” says study author Eliot Mostow, M.D., master teacher at Northeast Ohio Medical Universities.
Hard for us Frosties to believe, but heated car seats can get too hot – even for us! Consumer Reports reported last year that some were so hot, drivers were pursuing legal action for serious burns. But it’s not just heated seats that can cause toasted skin syndrome. Hot water bottles, heat packs and even laptops can cause the condition through overexposure. All it takes is a heat source being pressed up against the body for consistent, long periods of time.
But before you get depressed by this news, keep in mind that permanent skin discoloration is the extreme – just be careful and don’t overdo it with the heat. Get it warm, then turn it off until you need more warmth, and think twice before always using the highest setting.