News 9 Producer's Attempt To Stay Warm Leads To 'Toasted Skin Syndrome'

Wednesday, November 6th 2013, 9:49 am
By: News 9

Now that the weather is turning cold, people use all kinds of heat sources to stay warm. But the methods we use could be causing an unsightly skin condition.

It's a tough lesson one of News 9's own morning producers had to learn the hard way. She's now dealing with something called "toasted skin syndrome."

Schnee Garcia recently married; and on her big day, she was secretly thankful her wedding dress was long because it covered what she'd just discovered on her legs.

"I was at my last dress fitting with my bridal party, and she said 'OMG! What is that on your leg?' I had no idea, but the whole next day during my wedding, I kept looking at it," Garcia said.

Garcia learned the strange pattern on her leg was erythema ab igne; better known, and easier to say, as toasted skin syndrome.

Even worse, Garcia learned the culprit was under her desk. Sometimes the newsroom gets cold, and like many employees, she uses a space heater to fight the frigid air.

"Prior to central heating, people would sit by the fire to warm their legs for hours and would develop skin damage to the lower extremities," dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Brazeal said. She said the modern-day version of toasted skin syndrome is caused by car-seat warmers, laptops, electric blankets, heating pads and, of course, space heaters.

It's rare, but the repetitive exposure to such heat sources can cause extreme damage such as permanent discoloration, or even skin cancer.

But Dr. Brazeal says treatment is simple.

"The most important treatment is immediate removal of the heat source, and that can reverse the discoloration."

Garcia has learned something from the heating hassle, but she's still hooked to her space heater and has no plans to stow her heat source.

"I'm pretty much addicted to it. Our newsroom is so cold; but I will put it further from my feet from now on."