Erythema ab igne

Erythema ab igne
Erythema ab igne
Classification and external resources

Erythema ab igne in a person with chronic abdominal pain who found some relief from the application of heat.
ICD-10 L59.0
ICD-9 692.82
DiseasesDB 4438
eMedicine derm/130

Erythema ab igne (also known as hot water bottle rash,[1] fire stains,[2], laptop leg, and toasted skin syndrome[2]) refers to skin that is reddened due to long-term exposure to infrared radiation. The term is derived from Latin and means "redness from fire".[3]

Erythema ab igne (EAI) is a skin reaction caused by exposure to heat. It was once commonly seen in the elderly who stood or sat closely to open fires or electric heaters. Although wide use of Central Heating has reduced the incidence, it is still sometimes found in people exposed to heat from other sources like heat packs, laptops,[4] and hot water bottles. Overexposure to heat causes a mild red rash that might be described as 'blotchy'. Prolonged and repeated exposure causes a marked redness and colouring of the skin. The skin and underlying tissue may start to thin, and sometimes sores or lesions can develop.[citation needed] Some people may complain of mild itchiness and a burning sensation, but often, unless a change in pigmentation is seen, it can go unnoticed.

Different types of heat sources can cause this condition such as:

  • Repeated application of hot water bottles or heat pads to treat chronic pain--e.g., chronic backache
  • Repeated exposure to car heaters, or furniture with built-in heaters
  • Occupational hazards of silversmiths and jewellers (face exposed to heat), bakers and chefs (arms)



The source of heat must be removed. If the area is only mildly affected with slight redness, the condition may resolve itself in a few months. If the condition is severe and the skin pigmented and atrophic, resolution is unlikely. In this case, there is a possibility that squamous cell carcinomas may form. If there is a persistent sore that doesn't heal or a growing lump within the rash, a skin biopsy should be performed to rule out the possibility of skin cancer. Abnormally pigmented skin may persist for years. Treatment with topical tretinoin or laser may improve the appearance.

It may also be seen in people with hypothyroidism or lymphoedema.

See also


  1. ^ Rudolph CM, Soyer HP, Wolf P, Kerl H (February 1998). "Hot-water-bottle rash: not only a sign of chronic pancreatitis". Lancet 351 (9103): 677. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)78465-8. PMID 9500360. 
  2. ^ a b Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. pp. Chapter87. ISBN 1-4160-2999-0. 
  3. ^ Beleznay K, Humphrey S, Au S (March 2010). "Erythema ab igne". CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De l'Association Medicale Canadienne 182 (5): E228. doi:10.1503/cmaj.081216. PMC 2842847. PMID 20159900. 
  4. ^ Levinbook, WS.; Mallet J; Grant-Kels JM (October 2007). "Laptop computer--associated erythema ab igne.". Cutis (Quadrant HealthCom) 80 (4): 319–20. PMID 18038695. 

External links