Skin in the game: Video-game–related cutaneous pathologies in adolescents

Kyriakou G, Glentis A. Skin in the game: Video-game-related cutaneous pathologies in adolescents. International Journal of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2021 Jun;8(2):68-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpam.2019.09.002.



Following the inception of video games and the subsequent development of progressive innovations in videogame technology, many reports of videogame-related dermatologic conditions soon emerged in literature. Children and adolescents, in particular, are among the most avid consumers of online digital entertainment.

In an effort to better detail the impacts of these cutaneous manifestations and provide recommendations for injury prevention as it relates to video games, we performed an extensive systems-based literature review pertaining to the clinical features, etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of reported cases of dermatoses resulting from the misuse of video games.


A literature review using PubMed, SCOPUS, Ovid MEDLINE and EMBASE was performed. Hardware implicated in the reported cases include video games consoles, personal computers, laptop computers, mobile phones and tablets. The dermatologic conditions are primarily localized to the extremities, particularly the palms and fingers. The majority are associated with repetitive friction and trauma, as well as allergic contact sensitivities. For all cutaneous manifestations induced by video gaming, early recognition and removal of the offending agent was most often described as effective in symptom resolution.


The universal use and pervasive popularity of video games for recreational purposes present an emerging dermatological concern. As videogames become increasingly advanced and immersive, various cutaneous conditions arising from intensive gaming will likely become common over time. Consequently, it is critical that dermatologists consider video games with a high index of suspicion when encountering dermatological ailments in underage patients engaging in persistent gaming behavior.


2. Conclusions

With the technological revolution, games have spatially shifted from the real-world arena to virtual world web, with adolescents being among the most avid consumers. Although playing video games is one of the most popular leisure activities in the world, there has been considerable debate about the influence of gaming that may continue without a clear consensus in the foreseeable future. The untimely and daily use of video games can be responsible for a certain number of organic pathologies, including benign and reversible dermatoses. For all cutaneous manifestations induced by modern-age sources, cessation of use is a sensible and often most effective treatment.

It seems apparent that this field would benefit greatly from validated measures that quantify or categorize the types of cutaneous manifestations being activated by different games and game types as well as research studying longitudinal negative cutaneous consequences of video gaming. Moreover, evidence is needed on excessive play and on defining what constitutes excess in the first place. Raising the level of awareness may encourage the video game industry to alter the structure of video-game-related devices and make it finger and thumb safe. The consumers also need to be thoroughly educated about the potential negative impact of excessive video gaming. Perhaps it is time to disconnect.

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