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Dangerous New Trend: Salt and Ice

Salt and ice burns are nothing new, but thanks to a new internet challenge, it's reaching more people than ever. It's gotten so out of hand, in fact, that some kids have been sent to the hospital.

Today, kids, teens, and young adults have unfortunately revitalized salt and ice burns with the help of the internet. They pour a bit of salt on their hand or arm, place ice on the area, and then see how long they can take it.

The extent of the injuries experienced are so extreme because the skin is numbed with the ice, so participants are unaware of the extent of the damage.

YouTube videos of the challenge date back to 2012 with some amassing more than 6,800,000 views.

The trend swept across the US several years ago however a resurgence is now taking place with British youngsters.

The burns to the skin are similar to frostbite as adding salt to ice or ice water lowers the temperature further than the regular freezing temperature for water.

This is called a eutectic frigorific mixture and can result in temperatures reaching as low as −18 °F (−28 °C).

Children's charity the NSPCC tells ITV News "The rise of social media has contributed to increasing peer pressure amongst children and this ‘craze’ is another clear example of the risks".

Childline have issued the following advice to children who may be experiencing peer pressure:

  • Say it with confidence, be assertive. Practice saying 'no' so that it's easier when someone asks. Avoid situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • Try not to judge them, by respecting their choices, they should respect yours.
  • Spend time with friends who can say 'no' it takes confidence to say no to your friends. You could try seeing how your other friends stand up to peer pressure and you can try this too.
  • Suggest something else to do, if you don't feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, why not suggest something you could do instead.

'Salt and Ice Challenge' Causes Serious Burns

Unlike the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised more than $100 million for ALS research in 2014, this internet craze—popular with young people in the United Kingdom—is a dangerous one. Kids and teens are rubbing salt and ice onto their skin and posting videos and images online in a competition to determine who can withstand the pain the longest.

Some videos linked to this challenge were posted online as early as 2012, but the practice continues today. Salt reduces the temperature of the ice to just 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit—cold enough to cause frostbite and second-degree burns.

The effects of rubbing salt and ice on the skin often are not noticeable until numbness and redness wear off; therefore, many kids don’t receive medical attention until serious injury—including nerve damage in some cases—has occurred. Some injuries have been severe enough to require hospitalization.


Publish date: 

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

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