Apparently it’s Spring, who knew? After what felt like the longest winter of all time (seriously, January and February felt like an entire year), the promise of warmer weather is very welcome news. But looking out my window as I write this, it’s chucking it down with rain, I’m wearing two jumpers, and I have a heated blanket draped over my legs. Yes, I’m WFS (working from sofa), don’t pretend you aren’t too.
So, you’d be forgiven for not digging your dresses out the back of your wardrobe and searching for the sunglasses you haven’t worn since August 2020.
And if, like me, you’re still on the heated blanket/ portable heater/ hot water bottle hype well into March, then you may want to know about a skin condition that’s been taking beauty TikTok by storm in recent weeks – toasted skin syndrome.
What is toasted skin syndrome?
Toasted skin syndrome is the more common name given to a medical condition known as ‘erythema ab igne’. Literally meaning “redness from fire” in Latin, toasted skin syndrome leaves a blotchy, criss-cross type rash that is usually brown or red in colour. The rash may have a burning sensation or be itchy.
What causes toasted skin syndrome?
Toasted skin syndrome in often the result of repeated exposure to moderate heat, such as from your hot water bottle on your stomach or standing too close to a portable heater.
It’s important to note that this isn’t classified as a burn as the heat sources are not hot enough to cause the skin to burn. Rather, toasted skin syndrome is a hyper-pigmented rash caused by low-level heat exposure.
On social media, it’s clear that a lot of women who experience toasted skin syndrome are also those who suffer with conditions such as IBS and endometriosis, due to regular heat exposure from hot water bottles to help manage painful symptoms.
How can I treat toasted skin syndrome?
In terms of preventing toasted skin, dermatologist Dr Zainab Laftah says: “Erythema ab igne is commonly seen with sustained direct skin contact to heated blankets, hot water bottles, heaters and laptops, so avoiding direct contact prevents these skin changes developing.”
A similar approach applies to treating mild flare-ups. “These skin changes are reversible during the initial stage and the mild redness will fade over months if the skin is not exposed to continued heat,” says Dr Laftah.
“During acute flares, a mild topical steroid may help reduce the inflammation. It is important to also optimise the skin barrier with a regular application of moisturiser.”
Dr Laftah recommends the The La Roche Posay Toleriane range, which is enriched with glycerin and thermal spring water, and is formulated to help soothe irritated skin.