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Laptops are a surprisingly common cause of what could be called "energy injuries." They can cause visible burns and subtler injuries to the tissues on which they rest.

The most obvious source of injury from a laptop is a thermal burn. There has been one case in which a healthy man left his laptop on his lap too long and burned his scrotum and the base of his penis. There has been another case in which a laptop left severe burns on the thigh, and even a case that required the amputation of a foot. There have been about nine cases reported of a skin condition called erythema ab igne, also known as “toasted skin syndrome."

All of these laptop burns are most likely to happen to people who have diminished sensation in their legs. Those would be people who have had had spinal injuries and people who have diabetic neuropathy. People who have had spinal injuries or who have diabetic neuropathy who are under the influence of pain relievers, antihistamines, or alcohol are at greater risk for burns from their laptops. There is also greater risk for people who for any reason are confined to a wheelchair. Immobility reduces circulation that would carry away heat. However, anyone can get a serious burn from a laptop if they leave it on their lap for too long.

Human skin can be killed by prolonged exposure to temperatures over 43 degrees Celsius (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit). It's not unusual for laptops to generate a temperature of about 47 degrees Celsius (116 degrees Fahrenheit). That's hot enough to injure your skin, but not hot enough that your skin would feel like it's burning. It's unlikely that you would have an injury if your exposure to this level of temperature was just an hour, but more than an hour of skin to computer contact can cause a burn.

The brand of laptop you use makes a difference, too. Some brands, notably the older Dell laptop computers, have batteries that tend to overheat. Some Toshiba models have a problem with excessive heat from the fan that runs to remove heat from the interior of the computer. 

What about radiation damage from a laptop? Radiation comes from two sources, the internal workings of the laptop and its wifi connection. The closer the antenna in the client card is to the user's body, the greater the exposure to radiation.

Researchers know more about how this radiation affects men's bodies than they know about how it affects women's bodies. In men, the stronger the wifi signal for the laptop they use, the lower the motility of their sperm. Exposure to wifi signals causes sperm to lose their "swimming ability." It takes just an hour a day's exposure to the signal to make a difference in a man's fertility.

Women sometimes develop hyperpigmentation on their thighs after laptop use. While these brown blotches look like "age spots," they are more common in younger women due to the interaction of radiation exposure with estrogen. If there is repeated exposure over a period of years, these brown blotches on the thighs can become scaly and develop telangiectasias, spider veins, extending out from the brown patches.

In both men and women, exposure to wifi increases the rate at which mercury is released from the old-style amalgam dentists use to fill cavities. People with pot bellies can get erythema ab igne, "laptop" burn, over their abdomens, due to the overhang of their belly fat. 

There isn't scientific evidence that some other serious problems (menstrual irregularity and skin cancer, for example) are caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields from laptops, but there isn't any evidence they aren't, either. It's OK to use a laptop on your lap for up to an hour a day, but only one hour a day. If you need to use your computer more than that. at least put a coat or a blanket or a thick book over your lap to shield against heat and radiation, and limit your sessions on you laptop to one hour at a time.

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