5 Ways Technology is Secretly Harming Your Skin

Caitlin S. Miller
phone acne 5 Ways Technology is Secretly Harming Your Skin

Photo: STEEX/Getty Images

Despite what it might seem, technology isn’t always our best friend. Yes, it’s responsible for Instagram fame, Justin Bieber memes, and 24/7 texting, but as it turns out, it also has some serious side effects as well. From bright screens causing eye damage to tiny laptops that can cause poor posture, technology has some nasty health effects. But what’s more, we talked to Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy, aesthetic dermatologist at Miami Skin Institute, and learned technology is actually harming your skin too. Yikes! 

Culprit: Computer Screens 
“Many patients come to me saying that they are constantly squinting or frowning in an effort to concentrate while reading their paper or computer work,” says Dr. Jegasothy. “This muscle movement can indeed cause wrinkling, which then requires Botox,” she cautions. Her solution: Try not to make those faces frowning faces while reading! Set an alarm every half hour or hour to divert your eyes from your screen and stretch your face—better yet, get up and stretch your legs!

Culprit: Keyboards
There’s no denying it: Keyboards are filthy.  “Our fingertips are covered with oils that we need to protect them from the environment,” says Dr. Jegasothy. “Whether you are touching your keyboard or anything else dirty—or touching nothing at all—you should never touch your fingers to your face because their inherent oils can cause breakouts.” So it’s not just a dirty keyboard or fingertips that can cause pimples to pop up. Your hands’ own natural oils are enough to make skin suffer. Best bet? Keep your hands off your face!

Culprit: Headphones
Now we know what you’re thinking, headphones, really? But as it turns out, just as your dirty phone can cause you to break out, your not-so-clean headphones can cause pimples. Headphones can also cause contact and irritant dermatitis from rubbing, explains Dr. Jegasothy. “I believe that applying anything dirty on a chronic basis to the skin can cause overgrowth of bacteria and therefore breakouts,” she says. “This can be a phone, pillowcase, blanket and even boyfriend!” (Yes, a boyfriend, but that’s another story.)

Culprit: Activity Trackers
Obviously wearing a watch or FitBit or other activity tracker has it’s health benefits, no doubt. But think about it, when was the last time you actually cleaned your counter “Wearing a watch, FitBit or even engagement or wedding rings chronically that are never cleaned can harbor dirt and bacteria—or trap dirt and bacteria on the skin—and cause not only breakouts, but contact and irritant dermatitis,” cautions Dr. Jegasothy. Contact and irritant dermatitis are chronic rashes manifested by redness, scaling, and chronic itching and require treatment by a board-certified dermatologist, so it’s best to keep your tracker and the skin it touches clean!

Culprit: Netflix and Chill
Say what? Could your little Friday-night fling really be causing acne—or worse, wrinkles? Apparently, so, says Dr. Jegasothy. “Squinting at the TV can cause wrinkles, while sitting without moving for long periods of time can cause back and butt acne,” she says. Because bright screens cause people to squint, lower the brightness to avoid causing furrowed brows and increasing the likelihood of wrinkles. But it’s not just your eyes that could see wrinkled damage. Apparently your, ahem, backside can suffer from a long Netflix session as well. “Anything else that keeps you sitting for long periods of time can cause back and butt wrinkles,” says Dr. Jegasothy. (Think of activities like Skyping or playing video games. “The new Samsung Galaxy S7 Virtual Reality Headgear will no doubt cause acne and/or contact and irritant dermatitis!” she warns!) Sounds like it’s best to keep the mood lighting—ahem TV—low and don’t forget to take stretch breaks—and refill the wine glass, of course!

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