Monday, August 01, 2005

Can static electricity cause skin rash resembling insect bites?

There are occasional reports of skin rashes resembling insect bites attributed to static electricity (often associated with dry air conditions). I am are not fully convinced that static electricity is the cause. However I understand that some professionals in the pest control industry believe that this can be the case.

Chester County Council stated in an on-line article that :
""The environmental problems, however, have gone on from there as our buildings and their furnishings become increasingly modernised and synthetic. Sharp paper dust particles cause skin irritations, and in Chester the culprit has usually been pig-hair carpeting. In addition, certain combinations of temperature and relative humidity seem to set the stage for itches. The skin becomes hypersensitive and then contaminants irritate it.
Whenever someone walks across a carpet – or other floor covering – the friction between their soles and the flooring generates an electrostatic charge. This passes onto their skin and accumulates with each step. The charge drains slowly from the body back to the floor, but, when walking quickly or for a long distance, people accumulate static electricity on their bodies faster than it can drain away. Problems arise, if someone takes 20 or 30 paces across the floor and then touches or passes very near another object.
Although the discharge occurs unnoticed, it is often sufficient to cause localised skin irritations and leave a tiny red rash similar to an insect bite. Temperature and relative humidity influence the magnitude of the discharge, while sweat, oils and other materials on the skin improve the electrical conductivity of the body surface and aggravate the situation. ""
(See: Trafford Council Cable bug article )

I do not necessarily agree with the Trafford Council analysis but if static is involved it is likely that dry air conditions, and the floor covering material, are both major factors. We would expect the inhabitants would also receive shocks from static discharge, they would feel, hear, and possibly see the spark that accompanies the discharge. The voltage required for humans to feel these effects ( above about 3000 volts ) would easily be generated by walking on a nylon, or other man made fibre, carpet and other insulating materials.

For further interest, see also


Anonymous said...

I spent a whole month working on a project in front of a 22"screen, in an airconditioned, nylon carpeted office. My ankles became grossly swollen and the consultant I visited recognised purpura ie internal bleeding from small blood vessels. My whole body itched yet some regions like the thighs showed no superficial effects but it was as though the nerve ending were affected. Other regions like wrists and forearms looked like insect bites and with the itching and scratching were often bleeding.
It was an extreme situation because i only left the office for a half hour a day.

My dermatologist said "It wouldn't be static causing it". They have a lot to learn. i am happy to pass on the info because i wonder what the lesser symptoms are.

Anonymous said...

I have a 32"old model tv,a VHS old recorder/player on top of it, a cable box(top of VHS),a dvd player on the r/s of tv,
and the l/s of tv , a printer machine that fax, & copy,
a flat screen 19" desktop computer w/ keyboard, a cordless phone, and cell phone, all on the a computer table with metal legs. The pc power modem is on the bottom of the computer table. (I have cable service.) When I'm near them or using them, I can hear some type of static sound (cracking) especially from the tv. I have sensations such as, shocking, stinging, static, insect bites, itching, over my body (spider webs over my face). It has increased to point that my legs itch, and swell to the point that tiny blood vessels are broken. At times I try to shield my face and body and this works until I remove it. I read the report of "Anonymous said" and hope you are around to read my report. The super check the electric socket and electric equipment in the apartment with some type of detector. When he put the detector or device on the bed, there was a response. He also put it on me with the same result. He walked on my wood floor with rubber shoes and when he touched the door, he received a shock. Everytime I go past the circuit breaker or near the wall outlets, or touch/near other metal (microware, stove), I get a shock or electric charge. Could there be an electrical problem or static electricity ?

Static Doctor said...

Old CRT televisions and computer monitors have high electrostatic fields associated with the screens. Moving past these can give a crackling of small electrostatic discharges. If sitting with the face close to these it is possible that the electrostatic fields move dust particles to the face and these cause irritation. If strong, the electrostatic fields could be felt. You can get shielding screens to put over the monitor screen to help avoid this.

I don't know what you're measuring with your instruments. If the electrics have been tested and are safe, it sounds as if you are getting static charge build up on your body as you move around, giving you shocks when you touch metal objects. This can be due to floor covering or furnishing materials. See my article on "How to avoid static shocks"