LCD screens causing face irritation and 'burning'

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  • #23739
    John B

    I’m delighted that I came across this site. The recent discussion around screens and health, and the potential effects on one’s eyes was very interesting. Another health aspect with screens that some people experience, myself included, is that time in front of a screen causes the skin on one’s face to become irritated. I’m a long time computer user, and this started with CRTs. LCD screens are a lot better, but even they are now causing problems. I have looked for information on this, but have found very little. I was wondering whether anyone on this forum could throw any light on this area.

    I have wondered whether it’s the fluorescent back lighting that causes the problem, and does that mean that LED backlighting, particularly something like LG’s GB-LED system with less phosphor than the single led systems, would be an improvement?

    I’d be very grateful for any input on this area.

    #23746
    PCM2

    Hi John B and welcome,

    Just in case anybody is wondering the thread being referenced above regarding potential eye health concerns is this one.

    This is an interesting topic you’ve bought up here and in honesty is not really something I’m familiar with or have come across in other people (I’m sure others must ‘silently suffer’ with this sort of thing as well).

    I don’t think the backlight itself should be causing any sort of physiological reaction (at least, not something specific to monitors and not other artificial or natural light sources). Do you experience any sort of skin irritation when outside, perhaps on a bright day (not talking about sunburn, of course)? What about other light sources like lights in the household or mobile device screens (smartphones, tablets etc.)? I’m also wondering about the sort of onset time before the irritation begins. Is it something that occurs fairly quickly after using a monitor or does it take a bit of time? Also how long before it ‘calms down’ after ceasing use of the monitor?

    As I say this is a great and intriguing topic you’ve bought up here!

    #23810
    John B

    Thanks for the welcome. To answer your questions:

    Direct sunlight is not a problem beyond sunburn issues, nor are normal incandescent lights. LED lights seem OKish. Fluorescent lights are however a problem, and have been at least since my twenties. CRT screens and old style TVs were/are also a problem. Tablets (my Nexus 7, my wife’s iPad 2) and smartphones have also become a problem since their entry into our life about eight months ago to the point where I no longer use the tablets.

    You ask about the onset time. The reaction starts within minutes, and depending on length of exposure, can take two to three days to settle down. Over the years I have used various creams and the highest factor sunblock I can find, but they’re becoming less effective. When no-one is watching, I wrap heavy cloth around my face, with a small slit for my eyes. 😉

    Doctors and dermatologists have not been able to help. However it’s real, as shown by a recent skin biopsy, and my wife can tell immediately from my face that I’ve been behind a screen. I’ve heard of a few others with similar problems, but not heard any explanations or solutions.

    #23813
    PCM2

    That really is strange (and fascinating! ;))

    I am trying to think what could be causing it. I am not surprised it stumped the doctors and dermatologists, it doesn’t seem to be something that’s well documented as you say. I don’t think it is any sort of radiation specifically from the monitor – I mean nothing you’d worry about like harmful UV, phosphor leakage or anything like that. You said in the original posts that CRTs were actually even worse than LCDs. I wonder if it’s some sort of electrostatic charge around the monitor that you are very sensitive to. This sort of charge is far greater on CRTs (and plasmas I suspect – I’m not sure if you’ve tested those out?) than LCDs but does still exist on LCDs.

    And you don’t get any other symptoms such as eyestrain or headaches during normal use?

    #23861
    John B

    Your suggestion that this is the result of an electrostatic charge is not something I’ve considered before. I’ll need to look into the implications and see how that would change things. My present understanding of your suggestion is that by some mechanism a positive or negative charge builds up around the monitor. This then induces an (opposite?) charge in one’s face. This charge may have an ionising effect on one’s skin inducing the production of free radicals, or somesuch, which in turn would lead to inflammation. (You haven’t said all this. I’m just extrapolating, and may be way off.)

    If this is the case. one then needs to ground the screen to prevent the electrostatic build up, and/or somehow screen one’s face from the electrostatic field, and/or provide some way for one’s skin to deal with the electrostatic field. That would all need some investigation.

    I find the Kindle with it’s e-ink far more benign. Does it maybe not develop an electrostatic charge, and does this provide some circumstantial support for your suggestion? I haven’t tried plasma displays, so can’t comment on them.

    Thank you very much for your very useful comments and for the background knowledge you can contribute to this.

    #23863
    PCM2

    No problem, this is all very interesting to me as well.

    Whilst I can’t say I’m entirely sure on the physiological results, the process is very much what I was suggesting. The charge would somehow have to be dealt with at source to minimise/prevent ionisation, or alternatively mitigated on your own face/body.

    Although I haven’t tested this the e-ink displays are certainly very different in how they operate and should have minimal ionising effect. In fact they don’t emit any light (unless you count the front-light on the ‘Paper White’ version) and only actively do anything for very short periods of time; when the text or images actually change from one thing to another.

    #27131
    karla4569

    Hello! I have had this problem in the past as well, and am having it now again. After sitting in front of my computer monitor for a few minutes my face starts to burn. I have my hair pulled back and can feel it burning my ears as well. I have to leave it to get relief and the sensation is cut in half within 5 or 10 minutes and usually gone after a couple of hours so long as I don’t go back to it.

    This idea of static charge possibly being the culprit gives me hope of being able to resolve this! It makes sense for my present situation because it seems to have become really bad since our weather has turned really cold and dry lately, plus I’m covering myself with highly static clothing materials for warmth (microfiber).

    When this happened to me before, I was working in an office building in front of a computer all day, on standard commercial carpeting and I remember not being able to ever open my car door at the end of the day without having a strong static shock.

    My husband – an I/T guy – suggests spraying my clothing with some kind of static guard and getting a static mat to put under my chair.

    I just wanted to pop in and say thank you, PCM2, for this possible solution!

    John B., did you resolve your situation? If so, how? I hope you are doing better!

    #27163
    PCM2

    I’m really glad this thread has helped you out and given you a possible remedy. I’d also be interested in hearing back from John B about whether he was able to solve the problem and what he did to ease his symptoms.

    #27188
    John B

    Hi Karla and PCM2, In brief, I haven’t found a complete answer to this problem. I have found ways of lessening it, but haven’t addressed the electrostatic possibility directly.

    A dermatologist suggested what he considered to be the best sunblock on our local market, Bioderma Photoderm Max 50+. It’s hypoallergenic and apparently formulated for ‘intolerant’ skin. That certainly eased the problem, but I’ve found two creams that seem even better, and both relatively inexpensive. The best, called E45 on the local market, is a mixture of soft paraffin and lanolin and, I believe, vitamin E. I re-apply two hourly, and on a given day once or twice a week can work for four to five hours spaced out over the day.

    The other difference is that I’ve changed to a 22″ LCD screen and maintain a viewing distance of 90cm to 1m. Previously I think I had much too close a viewing distance, peering at the laptop screen. I’ve also reduced my time in front of a computer, and try to keep a decent viewing distance for my 7″ tablet as well when I occasionally use it.

    I take a small daily supplementary dose of vit A and a good quality vit E. It’s difficult to tell, but I think these help a bit too.

    Karla, have you had any luck with your anti static measures? I hadn’t thought of trying anything like that and would be very interested in your experience.

    John.

    #27189
    karla4569

    Hello John B,

    It has only been a couple of days since I first found this thread and got the idea that it could be a problem with static. I haven’t tried anything yet, other than just making it a point to break the static field up periodically throughout the day by wiping my monitor screen with a soft cloth. Yesterday was a pretty good day – I felt the heat only about 25% of what it was before, but then again, I was away from the computer for about 5 hours as well. I think I will try an anti-static mat and will report back how this works out.

    I’m also considering trying to humidify the air a little bit. I live in southwest Texas and the air is very dry here and the static can be a problem.

    Even though I have a dry skin problem, I am one who doesn’t like to use creams and lotions – I’m too much of a naturalist. But your mention of these potentially giving you some relief has just inspired me to use a glycerin/water mixture on my face for moisture just now. I’ll let you know how that turns out at the end of the day or tomorrow.

    I’m glad to know you are doing better!

    #27209
    karla4569

    Follow up: The glycerin/water provided some relief. There was just barely any noticeable burning, and I also continued to periodically wipe my monitor and computer box to break the static field.

    Our weather has warmed up and I believe that has helped as well, since our heater doesn’t have to kick on as often.

    Nothing else to report until I try some of the other options I mentioned earlier – if I do.

    #27213
    PCM2

    Glad to hear you’ve found some relief from your glycerin and water remedy (as well as trying to stop static build-up as much as possible). I’m really interested to hear how you both get on – hopefully things continue to improve for you both.

    I discussed this with a medical researcher as well and he was quite baffled but extremely interested in the whole thing. These sorts of complaints aren’t as uncommon as you think, but knowing what to do about it is another thing entirely!

    #27535
    davenport164

    Hi Jon B. I came across this site by searching for “computer burning face”. I’m glad I did because my husband experiences the same as you have been and we’ve been trying all sorts of things to get the burning stopped because he has his own business and is dependent upon using the computer. The burning is causing him to be less productive. I saw that you you posted this in August of 2013. Any solutions yet?

    #27536
    davenport164

    karla4569 – when you say that “glycerin water” provided some relief, how did you use it and where can it be purchased? Thanks.

    #27538
    karla4569

    Hello Davenport164.

    You can buy glycerin at Walmart or any drug store. I just splash my face with water and then rub 2 drops of glycerin on my face and let it dry on its own. It’s a great moisturizer.

    Since I did not get complete relief with the glycerin or trying to control the static field, I kept searching and came across some information in which someone said the computer box could be giving off some kind of fumes from PVC used in the plastic facing. So this turned my attention to the computer box and I remembered that just prior to this burning sensation starting to occur, my husband had changed out my computer, which has always sat on my desk to my right. So I had him change it back two nights ago. I am still feeling some effects, but it seems to be lessening somewhat.

    Other things that changed around the same time as the burning started to happen in the first week of Jan. 2014 is that I started taking liquid bentonite clay as part of a natural bowel cleanse I am doing. I also added a cordless landline phone on top of my computer box, which could be adding to the PVC fumes theory.

    Another possibility I am considering is the mercury amalgam fillings I have in my teeth. I read a book a few years ago called “It’s All In Your Head”, which was about the effects a dentist noticed of problems his patients had as a result of mercury fillings and how replacing those fillings resolved their problems. I am wondering if these fillings are reacting to the electromagnetic field that surrounds me at my desk. I have been having sensations of swelling felt in my left cheek and jaw for months now, along with a waterbed motion, dizzy sensation since last July. I went to the dentist about this, but he advised that since I did not have any acute pain in my teeth that it wasn’t my teeth and I should see an ear, nose and throat specialist. I am not a believer in the medical establishment, so I have not done this.

    Next, I am going to try to just clear my desk of all electronics other than my LCD monitor and see if that helps.

    #29118
    jhdjhdjhd

    I am relieved to find that others are having this problem. This started for me when I got a new iMac about 10-12 months ago, 21 inch with backlit-LED screen, although I didn’t make the connection back then. It’s gotten progressively worse and became very clear that it’s correlated to my computer use. It’s now so bad that it comes on almost immediately when I sit down in front of my computer, even after taking several days off (with symptoms completely gone when I’m away from the computer). For me it’s around my chin and mouth and not really anywhere else, is that true for others as well? I will try the E45 cream and the water with glycerin, and also cleaning the computer with a damp cloth that came with it, as others have suggested.

    I also sometimes feel it when I’m driving, is that true for others? I did some research and apparently cars produce a lot of static electricity, so that made me think that that may indeed be the culprit.

    Jud

    #29119
    karla4569

    Hello Jud – I don’t recall having a problem with this while being in cars.

    When it was at its peak, I was feeling a burning sensation on my entire face, neck, lips and ears. I am feeling minimal effects now and I have taken a few different actions to try to remedy the situation:

    1. I have removed the computer box and printer from the top of my desk and put it on the floor, so I no longer have almost direct exposure to anything but my monitor, which is a 21-inch LCD.

    2. I read that electronic devices put out positively charged ions, so I started using an air ionizer to neutralize this effect. I think this has had the greatest effect.

    3. I started taking 100mg of niacin once a day to deliberately get the characteristic skin flush. It is believed by some that niacin releases stored radiation in the skin as evidenced by old sunburn patterns showing up, making the flush look like a whole new sunburn. The flush only lasts for about an hour. This effect gradually reduces and goes away with time, apparently meaning the radiation is gone. I did this for about a week and then forgot all about it. Consistency is not one of my strengths.

    4. I stopped taking bentonite clay because of the positive ion factor. Bentonite clay is used as part of a bowel cleanse and its purpose is to attract positively charged toxins to its negative charge so it can be expelled. After reading that electronic devices put out positive ions, I figured that maybe the clay’s negative charge was dispersed in my body and attracting the positive ions from outside my body as well to the parts that were not covered by clothing, although I don’t seem to have a problem on my fingers and arms. Maybe my skin there is just tougher, I don’t know.

    As I sit here typing, I am feeling a slight burning sensation. I know that if I get up and turn on my ionizer that it will stop this, but I need to clean the filters first.

    Good luck!

    Karla

    #29136
    Jetty21

    Not sure how to write this but here goes nothing.

    I have always been behind a computer screen, have always suffered dermatitis along the face, and under the arms.

    It has never really been an issue till I got in to my later life around my late teens and now to my early-mid twenties. I have a computer screen now that flares up my dermatitis, if I sit at the monitor for most of the day playing games that is when it has a bigger impact on my face than any other time.

    Working isn’t an issue as much but can still cause mild flare ups time to time – though how can you really pin-point this one out, I mean games make my face itchy after a while, it isn’t turn the game on and it is instant, it does take time and it only takes one day, flares up the dermatitis and then I have to wait several days for it to go away – it isn’t just that it makes me a lot more pale as well so not sure if this has something to do with the eyes as well, but of course if you’ve no blood motion around the body what do you expect 🙂

    I cannot explain this either and have always looked for answers but never really found anything.

    I do take creams to help prevent it or help to stop the itching but it isn’t a cure so…

    If I get up and away from my PC Monitor and go outside it slowly disappears, the itchyness etc so clearly it is my monitor that is causing me issues but with no cure insight to any of this what else could I possibly do.

    #29138
    PCM2

    It’s definitely worth having a go with some of the remedies karla4569 suggested above. It seems that the culprit is static charge from the monitor which you must be particularly sensitive to. The air ionizer (air purifier) is definitely worth trying by the sound of it, it would make sense for this to have a positive effect and it seems that Karla is finding that to be the case.

    #29139
    jhdjhdjhd

    How nice to get several responses so quickly!

    Over the past 2 days, since reading the posts here and doing research, I have tried using Aquafor ointment on my chin and around my mouth because it has glycerin in it, which someone mentioned, and it is helping quite a bit. I also turned off and unplugged my computer (and all attached gadgets) and cleaned them with the special cloth that came with my iMac (slightly damp) because I read that the static electricity causes dust particles in the air to become charged so the less dust the better, and this may have helped, too. So I would recommend those things to anyone who has not yet tried them. The ionizer sounds good and I will definitely be doing that.

    It’s amazing to me that this is not yet a widely recognized skin condition!

    Thanks again,
    Jud

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