Who thought of this dumb idea? Boy, 12, badly injured in ‘salt-and-ice’ challenge

A 12-year-old boy, who participated in a “salt-and-ice challenge” last  weekend that he, his twin brother and friend learned about on Facebook and in  watching You Tube videos sustained serious second-degree cold injuries on his  back that required treatment at the West Penn Burn Center.

The unidentified youth lay on his stomach during a sleep-over at his house as  his brother and a friend put salt in the form of a cross on his back, then put  ice cubes atop the salt before applying pressure. The process causes almost  immediate pain. The ill-advised challenge is to see how long you can withstand  the pain.

Ariel Aballay, director of the Burn Center, held a news conference today to  alert parents of the serious injuries the challenge can cause, noting that  videos of people taking the challenge are well represented on You Tube. In just  moments, the challenge can cause first-degree cold injuries of redness that can  take a few days to heal. The Pittsburgh youth’s injuries caused severe  blistering and require drug treatment with a lotion that must be applied four  times a day for months. He is lot allowed to swim or go outside without a shirt  and even must have his back washed if he sweats for the rest of the summer.

“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.  Aballay said. “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, he said.

His mother said her son withstood the challenge for 20 minutes, eventually  losing any sense of pain or feeling. She asked that her name not be used, but  stressed the need to let the public know the potential consequences of the  challenge that many children and young adults are attempting.

Her twin sons and a friend undertook the challenge about 3 a.m. June 22. By  the next afternoon, his skin had blistered, prompting his mother to take him to  the emergency room, where doctors initially thought the injury would lead to  scarring.

She returned him to the burn center on Monday for additional treatment.

“I want parents to go to Facebook and YouTube to be aware of it and all the  other Internet challenges,” she said. “Kids are so impressionable and you can  tell them no until you are blue in the face.”

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