• Fri, Feb 24 2012

Toasted Skin Syndrome: When Seat-Warmers Give You A Butt Rash

toasted skin syndrome gives you a rash

Winter can wreak havoc on your skin, leaving you with chapped lips, itchy limbs…and, apparently, a rash on your rear-end. Yup, add your car’s seat-heating function to the list of things that can make your skin go funny in the winter. It’s called “toasted skin syndrome,” and according to Reuters, it’s a totally real thing that can irritate the delicate skin of your derriere.

Toasted skin syndrome isn’t an actual burn–because, ostensibly, you aren’t riding in your car in the winter without pants on, and because the heating element isn’t directly in contact with your skin. But it is caused by prolonged exposure to the consistent, sustained heat that butt-warmers can put out. Which means that if you’re a regular commuter, or you frequently drive long distances with the heated seat function firing, you probably don’t have to worry about a blistering burn…but you may experience some redness or even a rash on the backs of your legs and butt. It’s not really dangerous–just uncomfortable (and not very attractive). The horror!

Does toasted skin syndrome sound like the kind of highly ridiculous scare-story that news outlets love to circulate? Yes. Yes, it absolutely does, because it sort of is. But consider this: some heated seats can reach temperatures of 120 degrees, something that health advocates have been warning auto manufacturers of for over a year. Just for reference, running water at 120 degrees for just 5 minutes over the skin can lead to third-degree burns. So while it may seem pretty silly, it is actually something that consumer advocates are concerned about.

There’s a pretty easy solution to cutting your potential for an unsightly rear-end rash–just turn down the settings on your car’s seat-heating function. And if it’s only an on/off situation, consider calling your mechanic to see if they can turn it down. Or, just make sure you only use it for a little while, instead of leaving it on for the duration of your drive.

Image: Piotr Marcinski via Shutterstock

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