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Do you know what your kids are doing when they are watching YouTube or posting videos to their social media accounts? You might want to find out because there are some scary challenges out there enticing our kids to participate. We have all heard about the Tide Pod challenge, but there are others that you want to be aware of. It seems shocking that kids would do these things to their bodies but the appeal is not just to shock or impress their friends, it’s to gain those likes and potential internet fame. Therefore, it is important for parents to have open communication about the use of social media, set limits on use and control privacy settings. Here are a few examples of challenges kids are doing and what the consequences may be. Pediatricians also need to be aware of what the skin changes look like because unknowing parents may bring their child in with these mysterious rashes.

Type in “eraser challenge” in the YouTube search bar and 310,000 results come up. Some of these are news stories or warnings about doing the challenge, but plenty of others are kids filming themselves doing it. Some of them are really young too! The challenge is to rub an eraser on the skin for as long as they can stand it. The result? A burn-like injury to the skin. The injury is painful and if the skin is open it can get infected and leave a scar. If the wound is very deep, an infection can spread below the skin and make the child very sick.

This is a photo of what the eraser challenge may look like. It was posted by a school on their public Facebook page and reported on by Today.

This is one that while very dangerous, makes you think your kids paid attention in chemistry class. The presence of salt will lower the temperature of the ice making it even colder. The temperature will get down to -17 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit). This can cause rapid frostbite and second degree burns. Again, kids are doing this to see how long they can stand the pain once the ice is applied and they are filming it hoping for likes. The initial appearance of the skin may look like white welts in the pattern of the ice-cube, but over time the skin will turn red, blister and peel. This leaves open skin at risk for severe pain and infection. It can also result in permanent scars.

Initial welting from the Salt-Ice Challenge. (chase_guns170vlogs on Instagram)

This one had me really concerned. I can’t imagine any child thinking it is acceptable to light yourself or your friends on fire but that is exactly what they are doing. This challenge involves applying flammable liquid to the body and then lighting yourself on fire. Yes I said lighting themselves on fire. (Insert shocked emoji here) Besides the obvious danger of severely burning the skin, there is also the danger of breathing in smoke. Furthermore, running around while on fire adds oxygen, or fuel, to the flames, making the fire worse. The result is first or second degree burns on the skin. Second degree burns can cause fluid loss, infection and scarring. Large areas of burns may even require skin grafts.

Screenshots of 2 YouTube videos in which kids use a flammable agent and light themselves on fire.

This challenge had me confused when I initially heard about it. What can a stick of deodorant do? The challenge actually involves using spray deodorant. The spray has a cooling effect and the goal of the challenge is to see how long one can hold it near the skin. It can be quite painful and will definitely leave marks on the skin. Because the skin cools quickly, it causes frostbite, which at first appears white. This effect is similar to the salt-ice challenge. Unfortunately, there is damage to the skin following the initial frostbite and the damage can be permanent.

Tweet warning families in the UK about the dangers of the deodorant challenge.

Overall, parents and doctors need to know the tell-tale signs on the skin that a child is participating in these challenges. Talk to your kids about what they see on the internet and make sure to communicate the dangers of doing things they see online.

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