FFS! Erythema ab igne (hot water bottle 'syndrome')

So, for the past 18months or so I've been noticing a red/brown, spidery / blotchy rash on my inner thighs which has been getting worse. It's also on my lower back - though not as bad. Having now surfed the internet, it turns out that this is an actual medical condition caused by use of hot water bottles ( and exposure to other types of heat) and that it can get worse and in, I am hoping rare cases, can result in skin cancer. I did a search on here and found out that there have been a couple of discussions already about this (Erythema ab igne). It seems as though the safest thing is to stop using hot water bottles - it's pointless using them at a tepid heat as it won't help me. I already use a tens machine, take 5 different painkillers etc. My hot water bottles were a crucial part of a daily routine. I wake up every morning in bad pain and my partner always brings up a hot water bottle or sometimes two with a cup of tea! I use them through the day at times too - and God knows what the hell I will do next time I have a period! I've always used quite thick bottle covers to protect my skin but obviously that is not good enough. Why didn't I know about this - I feel as if I should have. Am I just a bit dim? Has anyone ever had this diagnosed by a doctor?

13 Replies

Omg I'm so relieved to read this. I have exactly the same thing. Diagnosed 20 months ago endo, fibroids and adhesions, agonising periods & my hot water bottle (which also became two bottles one front and one back) were my permanent best friends even when not having my period I was using them as I hurt most of the time and also became a habit to hug a bottle and I noticed the blotchy patterns slowly appearing after my lap. For a while I thought it was cos of my op as it started at my belly button and over time (18 months) it got bigger. I googled it 2 months ago and eventually found something about it being heat induced so realised it was hot water bottle - although I saw it could have been something scarey and rare medical wise I ignored that. I went to Dr's 2 months ago about it and she said hot water bottle :)

Apparently it may or may not go though!! I love my hottie!! Stopped using it though as I've now gone on progesterone only pill to stop me having my period so period pain has stopped and on my first period (which wasn't a proper period at all) amazingly only took two Co-codomol throughout and didnt need a bottle and havent used one since.

I must admit though I do miss cuddling something hot and it definitely was the equivalent of a safety blanket. RIP hot water bottl. :)

Still very blotchy not reduced at all, it completely covers my fat over my stomach. I need to lose 2 stone in weight so maybe that will help reduce it.....

Dr never mentioned skin cancer to me and it really is nothing to worry about, purely cosmetic.

So funny to read your post as I've gone through same thing. I did panic as I saw it got bigger and eventually couldn't ignore it, however I couldn't have lived without a bottle before going on cerelle. I feel human again and living a better life without so much pain - what a difference it makes.


Has your erythema ab igne cleared up?

Yes, more or less. You can still see a few feint lines here and there. I stopped using hot water bottles and started ice packs instead - which actually often seem to work better than the heat. If I do go back to hot water bottles occasionally, what's left of the the erythema shows up more.

Hi, no you are not dim at all. We tend not to research about stuff until it is something that affects us or we just come across it. I think I came across this re laptop usage but would not have associated it with hot water bottles, especially if used a cover. Apparently it should improve over a couple of weeks once heat source stopped and if it does not, then go and see your GP. It is very rare that it turns to anything nasty. I am sorry that your source of comfort is now not available to you. I used to use those heat pads you can buy from the chemist as you can stick them over your underwear and get some relief all day whilst going about normal business - I don't know if they have the same risk but, some are marketed for period pain so should be able to use on a monthly basis for a few days but I doubt every day use.

Hi I'm Emily, in 14 and I went camping with my family and at night it got pretty cold so of course I went out and bought a hot water bottle over the time I didn't see and red marks anyway I kept up with the hot water bottle until now I'm seeing red blodges not very big there starting to fade but should I worry? I just don't want them to stay 😱

I also have this heat rash to looks like a lot of bruising but without my heatpad I wouldn't get through! Xx

Well at least I'm not alone with my oddly patterned skin! Before I looked it up I thought it was just something to do with getting fat! I have put a fair bit of weight on. It's not on my stomach though - just tops of thighs and small of my back. The thighs look the worst - deeper red / brown colour. I guess I will have to soldier on without the bottles. If you google it you see some pretty nasty photos don't you? Mine is not quite that bad but I suppose it would get to that stage if heat kept being applied. I'm assuming that's when it can cause cancers. I wonder if I will look like I am part giraffe for the rest of my life or if it will fade? I think I will have to invest in another tens machine at least - could do with one with about a dozen pads ;-).

You can't get rid of it, I have the same thing on my stomach. You need to either stop using hot water bottles or don't have it so hot and apply over clothing rather then skin

I know exactly what you're going through I have severe endo and unfortunately I have the pain everyday rather then just round my period, im on alot pain killers and tens machine. The tens machine makes pain worse for me, I struggle to work but have to force myself everyday cos they trying to get rid of me cos of my condition and that's the nhs for you!

There is no cure For our condition and the only thing we can do is carry on and try to cope, its ruining my life in so many ways but I keep fighting.

Don't give up hun.

I have this too and actually when I went on Prostap for 3 months and I didn't need to use a hot water bottle, it pretty much disappeared. I have been told off by 2 doctors but told them to bog off

hi, so you are saying Prostap cured those scars completely? unfortunately i too got these while sitting next to a portable heater , on the calf of my leg. they are turned in to brownish squiggly lines

I broke my back..used bottles for about 3 years..my marks were almost black!..but stopped using them and marks almost gone..use fentanyl patches now..they look better lol

I know it's not the same thing as not as hot as a hot water bottle though I tend to use heat pads the ones from home bargains with the Velcro pad to stick two pads at once into them and they do last 8 hours xxxx

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