What Your Computer Could be Doing to Your Face

Filed in The Healthy Writer by on March 4, 2014 • views: 29893

Adjusting screenAs if our culture wasn’t already obsessed enough about aging, now comes “computer face,” a new term to describe the premature aging effects of sitting for hours at the computer.

What is computer face, and do you need to worry about it destroying your looks before your time?

What Is “Computer Face?”

In September 2010, the Daily Mail published an interesting report. According to a leading cosmetic surgeon, professionals who sit for hours in front of the computer—and who tend to squint, frown, or remain in one position for a long period of time—are at a greater risk for the appearance of premature aging.

That means accelerated fine lines, wrinkles, frown lines, turkey neck, deep wrinkles, and jowls. In fact, office workers were the most likely to show signs of premature aging.

Here are some of the potential problems:

  • If you frown or squint when concentrating—you may end up with premature frown lines.
  • Sitting in one position too long can increase risk of jowls.
  • If you look down a lot, neck muscles can shorten and sag—turkey neck.
  • Younger men and women are aging more quickly because of the heavy use of information technology.

So far, this is a phenomenon touted only by cosmetic surgeons, who claim to be seeing more and more younger patients with these types of effects. We have yet to see any real scientific study on the matter, but these early warnings may be worth heeding, considering how badly the muscles in the rest of our body react to endless sitting.

Do Computers Expose You to UV Radiation?

Might your computer expose you to UV radiation?

Older CRT monitors did emit very low levels of UV light, which may have lead to skin damage over time. They could also be problematic for photosensitive individuals, such as those with lupus or severe cases of xeroderma pigmentosum.

Newer flat-panel LCD screens, however, have not been found to emit UV light.

Allergic Reactions that Lead to Aging

Recent research suggests, though, that prolonged exposure to a computer screen may lead to discoloration, blotches, rashes, and skin allergies. Those with pre-existing skin problems, like rosacea and sun sensitivity, could be even more at risk.

According to some scientists, monitors create an electrostatic field that attracts floating dust that can then settle on the skin and cause dryness, irritation, and allergic reactions—particularly in poorly ventilated areas. Swedish associate professor at the Experimental Dermatology Unit, Karolinska Institute, Olle Johansson, agrees that in some sensitive individuals, excessive screen exposure can lead to “screen dermatitis,” in which skin cells suffer as a result of consistent exposure to light and electromagnetic fields.

What to Do to Protect Your Face and Eyes

Research into the potential effects of computers on skin is still in its infancy. These are preliminary findings that have yet to be duplicated. What we do know is that even though LCD screens don’t emit UV radiation, they do emit LED light, which has been connected to eye damage.

A 2013 study linked LED lights in bulbs, computers, cell phones, and TVs to increased risk of irreparable harm to the retina in the eye. Researchers stated the damage came from high levels of radiation in the “blue band” of light. They estimated the problem is likely to grow as more computers, mobile phones and TV screens use LED lights. Experts have called for built-in filters to cut down on the blue glare.

Of course, fluorescent light bulbs also emit UV radiation, further exposing your skin to potential damage and premature aging while at the office.

To protect your skin, eyes, and overall appearance, try these tips:

  • Take frequent breaks. Look away from the screen to a distant sight.
  • Get up and take a short walk.
  • Stretch your neck by looking up at the ceiling and holding for at least 20 seconds.
  • Adjust your working space so you’re not always looking down at the screen.
  • Look left and right to stretch your neck.
  • Place a mirror by your computer screen so you can see if you’re frowning or squinting. (Ignore comments about your vanity.)
  • Purchase an anti-glare screen that fits over the computer monitor to cut down on radiation exposure and the glare of blue light.
  • Wear sunscreen every day.
  • Use skin care products with antioxidants in them—they provide natural protection from UV radiation.
  • Maintain a good distance from the monitor and clean it regularly (to remove dust).
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
  • Consider applying moisturizer or a hydrating mist periodically through a long day. At the very least, wear a long-lasting moisturizer.

Do you take steps to protect your skin and eyes while working on the computer? Please share any tips you have.

Matusiak M, et al.,. “[Ultraviolet radiation in selected computer monitoring],” Med Pr., 1994; 45(4):292-5, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7968496.

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  1. Mindy says:

    Hi Linda, I have your same symptoms (itching, breakouts) using iphones and samsung galaxy phone and galaxy tablet. After quiting my galaxy smartphone I continued to breakout but not so bad but I finally found ACNEVIR gel.The yucky illustration of a breakout on the box looked just like what I had so I used it and I don’t break out anymore at all. No more microwaving my face. I am convinced that it is the touch screen technology that is more intense on my skin.

    The only thing I can use is an older HP Pavilion g series ( thankfully there is something) and I don’t breakout at all. It’s an older Laptop with NO touch screen technology. Don’t know what I would do if everything becomes touchscreen. A few minutes into looking at those things, I feel a prickly sensation all over my face and I have to get it away from me. I had a DELL laptop before the HP that was emitting something that affected my sinuses but not my skin.

    I highly recommend you read http://www.feb.se/ARTICLES/OlleJ.html Mystery of the Skin, which is an interview with Ollie Johannson PH.D. mentioned above. We are allergic and there is a buildup of skin cells with histamines. I loved that Samsung Galaxy. Gave it to my son and the tablet to my husband. Hope this helps. Let me know how you are. Mindy

    • sarah harris says:

      Oh my goodness, are you saying that my computer/laptop maybe causing my ongoing sinus issues?? Also, I have awful dry skin under my eyes. I understand that as we age (I’m 43) our skin changes, but this is bananas! My sinus condition is constant. I look like I’m having a “sinusy day” every single day, with puffiness above and below my eyes. I’ve been going nuts trying to figure out the cause. I’m so relieved to have read this!

      • Colleen says:

        Hi, Sarah. I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion. There are so many things that can cause sinus issues, and so many things you may be allergic to. I would refer you to an allergy doctor for tests to see if you can find out what may be bothering you before concluding that it’s your computer. That’s probably the least likely cause. Studies have shown that allergens have increased over the past few years because of warming—I’d recommend you do some detective work to see what may be bothering you. Don’t rule out skin care products—many have fragrances that can be sensitizing over time. Detergents, dust, perfumes, and other items may also be to blame.

        • Mindy says:

          Hello Colleen,

          I can’t agree with you that the computer is the least likely cause of sinus problems or skin problems. I agree that all possible causes should be eliminated or controlled, which took years for me. And I am not saying to throw out your computer. But this technology is not entirely clean and green. People with skin conditions or sinus conditions should try other computers before they give up computer use altogether like I had to for too long, because the symptoms were intolerable. I am not saying to buy them…borrow them, rent them…but that possibility should not be discounted that the kind of computer might be the culprit.

        • sarah harris says:

          Thanks for the response! I seriously have been a “detective” for the last year of suffering with sinus conditions and very dry skin and swelling around my eyes. I’ve changed any and everything that could possibly cause these symptoms. All fragrance free laundry, cosmetics, etc. Which is what brought me to this article, as I was out of other ideas. I will certainly continue to look for other causes….most likely multiple things vs one cause. This is something to consider though. Great info and thanks again!

          • Colleen says:

            Oh definitely. You never know with these darned allergies. I can only imagine how frustrating it’s been for you. Good luck in finding the culprit(s)!

      • Mindy says:

        Hi Sarah,

        Certainly explore those other possibilities that Colleen mentions and I must say that I do have chemical sensitivities and dust allergy, hypothyroid, and take meds that dry me out so I have to hydrate alot, but I still have those problems and the HP does not cause sinus problemsis. I keep it on the darkest setting ,and make sure the fan is clean and not fanning into the direction of my face (I redirect the fan are away from face by fashioning an little fin above the fan with painters tape). What kind of computer do you have Sarah?

        I really got desperate with the Dell. I had an Ebay business and had to be on the computer so much and it made my sinus so bad, I started to put wet pieces of Kleenex in my nose and that did help,believe it or not, but it was a pain because my breathing was so shallow. Now that is desperation !!

        I am not putting down Dell, just for me I am.

        • sarah harris says:

          Mindy-

          Funny you should ask! I purchased a new DELL about a year ago. It’s a laptop. I had a laptop before with no similar issues. I know it seems nuts but when I backtrack….this is seriously the only thing I’m left with as a potential cause. I totally understand that our body may change, and things that once didn’t bother us now causes issues. So I’m not completely thinking that it has to be the Dell, ya know? But truly, it started shortly after the new laptop came into play, and I have since changed any and everything that could be causing this much of a difference in my sinus condition and very dry skin around my eyes. Maybe I’m the one in a million that is affected by this brand of computer? Wait, after you, that would make me 2 in a million 😉

          • sarah harris says:

            To clarify….my first laptop was not a Dell. This laptop is my first Dell product.

          • Mindy says:

            Sarah, i sincerely don’t know what to say. I hoped you might say Dell but what are the odds…I have to take this in. I am speechless…I hope we can stay in touch about this. It would be good if you could stay away from the Dell or maybe any computer, until your sinus clears and either get another computer or give the Dell another chance.

            All I could think of was that there was some element in my Dell that was being fanned out that acted as a desiccant in my nose and sinuses (and nobody elses )which lead to inflammation and then an immune response. A desiccant that is not in my HP. I don’t think the computer companies are required to give out the ingredients that make up their computers. They are like trade secrets, although I think that both Dell and HP may be nickel free now.

            Also some people have these punctal plugs surgically placed in the drainage holes of their eyes and that helps dry eye but I don’t know about the nose. I couldn’t stand the idea so I didn’t explore it.

            Thanks for being the 2 in a million if you indeed are. Just because something is rare does not mean it doesn’t exist! I hope you can keep us posted on your progress!

          • Mindy says:

            Oh and I just remembered, I never tried the nose filters they sell on Amazon. Maybe they would help?

  2. Jane says:

    I also repeat Colette’s question.
    Please any answer?
    Thank you

  3. Jane says:

    I appreciate the article. I have been using computer and sitting in front of it almost 10 hrs a day these days, in addition to using my cell phone. I have noticed that during past 6 months I have seen dramatic changes on my face. I got droopy jawline, fine lines around my mouth, and I get pimples sometimes. Specially recently, i can feel that my facial skin is extremely dry that makes me uncomfortable and even my nostrils are so dry to the point that i have to go the washroom and blow it and moist frequently. I hope as the technology has developed, they also find a better solution to protect skin and eyes from damage caused by screen of computer.

  4. Colette says:

    I am having difficulty finding a computer screen protector that eliminates UV. Can you tell me where I can find one?

    • Admin says:

      Hi, Colette. As mentioned in the post above, as long as you have a flat-panel monitor, you don’t have to worry about UV exposure. If you have an older computer with a larger (fatter) monitor/screen, it is likely emitting only very low levels, for which sunscreen may be your best protection. I don’t know for sure, but I think most any anti-glare screen protector would help—the study referenced at the end found that two popular screen protectors did suppress UV emission.

      • Tim says:

        have you researched LCDs with both fluorescent and LED backlights? both kinds of lighting have been found to emit UV http://www.nouvir.com/index.cfm?ref=90200&ref2=9 but are you suggesting that the screen filters them?

        • Admin says:

          From what I understand, an anti-glare screen would help filter either one, but again, I’m finding little research on it (besides the study mentioned above that did show suppression of UV radiation). Anyone who finds additional research let us know!

      • DOAA says:

        What about most recent laptops that use LED screens not LCD screen?
        They are actually the majority now.

  5. Ramesh Sehgal says:

    Great tips. I have been excessively using computer for 6-months and face severe rashes on face. I was trying different ointments etc. Visited doctor few times but none ever asked on this area and instead recommended different gels which did not work.

    Above tips make sense and shall use immediately.

    • Linda says:

      Wow….same here, I just itched like crazy, esp. my face. Chin, jaw line and cheeks. I have tried creams. Rx & OTC. Went on antibiotics, anti virals, anti fungals. Oral, cream, ointments & gel. I am disabled am in my iPad pro, all day. I was on Amazin trying to figure out id the screen protector needs to be ANTI BLUE LIGHT, ANTI UV. OR Exaxtly what. I can’t afford to just buy one and it not be right. I was then told the new 12.9 iPad pro had an ANTI Blue & UV light screen. I can’t find any info on it. But I look like a leper my skin is horrible. PLEASE ANY HELP YOU CAN GIVE ME. THANK YOU 🌹

  6. Beverly Slaska says:

    I just started working 40 hrs week in front of computer in October. In the last 3 weeks I started to get swollen dry itchy eyes. I put extra moisture around my eyes and sunscreen prior to work and the swelling and itchiness has gone almost completely away.