‘Salt and ice’ another dangerous challenge attracting kids

Jul 3, 2012, 1:07 PM

A new teen fad called “the salt and ice challenge” is
drawing crowds on social networking sites and YouTube. But
like other teen “challenges,” it has proven to be
dangerous. And health-care experts are telling parents to
talk to their kids about the risks.

In Pittsburgh, a 12-year-old boy will spend the summer
recovering as a result of having a large cross burned into
his back by his twin brother and a pal as part of this
newest challenge, according to the Post-Gazette. He ended up in the West
Penn Burn Center for treatment.

For the challenge, tweens and teens put salt on their skin
and then press ice into it to see who can tolerate the
pain the longest. The longer the ice is pressed into the
salt, the more serious the injury. CBS
Pittsburgh
noted that when salt comes in contact with
ice, the freezing point of the ice is lowered as the salt
dissolves. And that’s a process that borrows energy from
what is close by. In the case of this teen stunt, what is
nearby is human flesh, so the energy is pulled from skin
and “you get a burn similar to frostbite.”

“The injury is similar to frostbite that can result in
mild cold injury but it also could increase in severity
based on the time the ice is applied,” Dr. Ariel Aballay,
director of the burn center, told the Post-Gazette. “The
longer, the more serious the injury. This patient went on
for a few minutes, but there have been cases that went on
for six or seven minutes that resulted in third-degree
injuries.”

In the case of the unnamed twin, the Post-Gazette said he
received “such severe blistering burns that he needed
hospital treatment and will be recovering for the rest of
the summer.” The treatment includes medications and
applying lotion four times daily for months. He won’t be
allowed to swim or go outside without his shirt on and any
sweat must be immediately wiped off his skin. And then, if
all goes will, he will eventually heal without permanet
scars.

In some reported incidents, scars that result may be
permanent.

The parents in this incident released a statement through
the the West Penn Allegheny Health
System
that said in part, “We want teenagers and the
general public to know that ‘the salt and ice challenge’
is extremely dangerous. Videos on YouTube, Facebook and
other social media do not accurately show the terrible
injuries that can result. We are grateful that our son is
recovering and hope that sharing his story will stop other
young people from attempting this stunt.”

The release noted that two months before the incident,
school authorities in Pittsburgh had warned parents that
the fad was becoming very popular and had sent letter to
parents warning of risks.

Youths have been competing with odd and sometimes
dangerous challenges for some time. Who hasn’t heard of
swallowing a goldfish. Another recent “trick,” popularly
called “the cinnamon challenge,” has also in some
instances proven dangerous.

In the cinnamon challenge, youths try to swallow a
tablespoon of cinnamon without water. In at least one
case, the individual who attempted it suffered a collapsed
lung and there have been reports of complications in
people with asthma, among others. It was the subject of a
warning from the American Association
of Poison Control Centers.

The organization told MSNBC.com that from January to March
poison centers answered 139 calls about teens and cinnamon
and 30 of them required medical evaluation. Of the total
number, 122 were “intentional abuse or misuse.” Last year,
they answered 51 calls about cinnamon exposure.

Dr. Russell Migita, clinical director of emergency
services at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said the practice
could irritate lungs if it was inhaled and that subsequent
coughing could lead to issues from inflammation and fluid
in the lungs to a lung collapse.

Others cite side effects including nausea and vomiting or
allergies.

A different dare that’s been around for a couple of years,
“the Skittles challenge,” involves stuffing a whole bag of
the colorful candies in your mouth at once and then trying
to eat them. That poses a real choking danger, according
to health officials.

There are reportedly more than 30,000 “cinnamon
challenges” videos on YouTube and more than 9,000 “salt
and ice” challenges shown, along with videos that warn of the associated risks, as well.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter:
Loisco

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‘Salt and ice’ another dangerous challenge attracting kids