A 12-year-old boy from Pittsburgh, Penn., sustained severe second-degree burns on his back after participating in a dangerous teen fad called "salt and ice challenge," making the rounds on YouTube and social networking sites.
"Salt and ice challenge" involves teenagers pressing salt and ice against their skin and competing to see who can tolerate the pain longest. According to Daily Mail, placing salt on the bare skin and pressing ice on top of it causes a reaction that burns the skin. Post-Gazette reports that the Pittsburgh boy and his twin brother learned about the "salt and ice challenge" through Facebook and YouTube.
According to WPXI, the parents of the boy have released a statement warning other teens and their parents about the dangers of playing the popular but dangerous game. The Huffington Post reports the statement said:
“We want teenagers and the general public to know that the 'salt and ice challenge' is extremely dangerous. Videos on You Tube, 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."Post-Gazette reports the boy's mother said: "I want parents to go to Facebook and YouTube to be aware of it and all the other Internet challenges. Kids are so impressionable and you can tell them no until you are blue in the face."
Daily Mail reports that while the unnamed boy lay on his stomach, his twin brother and a friend poured salt in the shape of a cross on his back and pressed ice on it. Post-Gazette reports the boy's mother said she was told that the "salt and ice challenge" is being used in group initiations. She warned: "Now I say it daily that when you are with other kids, stop and think before you do anything. But whenever you get a group of kids together, they are going to do things. It's peer pressure, even if they don't want to do it."
NY Daily News reports that many teenagers have posted videos of themselves taking the challenge.
According to the Daily Mail, the boy had the ice on his back for only a few minutes, but he suffered severe blistering burns. He will need to stay at the hospital the entire summer to recover. Post-Gazette reports that the blistering required drug treatment and a lotion that is to be applied four times a day for several months.The boy is not allowed to swim, and he is not allowed to go out without a shirt. He must also have his back washed immediately if he sweats during the summer.
Dr. Ariel Aballay, director of the West Penn Hospital Burn Center, held a news conference to warn other youngsters of the dangers of the game.
Post-Gazette reports Aballay said: "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. The longer, the more serious the injury. This patient went for a few minutes, but there have been cases that went for six or seven minutes that resulted in third-degree injuries. Hopefully his wound will heal without scarring."
CBS Pittsburgh reports Aballay, presenting pictures of the boy's burn, said: “Besides applying the salt and the ice, somebody has to be putting pressure."
According to CBS Pittsburgh, the burning reaction occurs because "of the way salt and water interact, when salt comes in contact with ice – which is frozen water – the freezing point of the ice is lowered as the salt gets dissolved. This takes energy from what’s nearby. If your skin is nearby, this energy is heat pulled from your skin, and you get a burn similar to frostbite."
Aballay said: “There are risks. You could end up having surgery or a scar for the rest of your life. If something is causing a lot of pain, probably not a good idea to do it.”
According to The Huffington Post, the incident happened two months after school authorities in the Pittsburgh area expressed concern to parents about the fad growing in popularity among teenagers and sent out letters warning about the risks of the game.
Daily Mail reports that doctors had thought the boy would be scarred for life but they are now hopeful he will heal without leaving marks.