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Health, Science & Tech

Salt And Ice Challenge Injures Local Boy

A popular but dangerous "dare" among teenagers has come to Pittsburgh with potentially scarring results. Doctors at the West Penn Burn Center this week treated their first patient suffering from injuries due to a so-called "salt and ice challenge."

The challenge involves covering an area of skin with salt and then pressing ice into the salt. The salt causes the ice to melt rapidly, which pulls heat from the skin, resulting in a burning sensation. The dare it to leave the ice on as long as possible. The danger is that the process results in "cold injuries" that look and feel like burns and must be treated like frostbite.

"Our particular patient experienced a combination of first and second degree cold injuries as a result of this, but I have seen cases that are even third degree in nature," said Burn Center doctor Ariel Aballay.

Aballay said the patient has been treated with topical antibiotics and is expected to recover without any surgery, but "there could be scars as a result of this and it will take several weeks or even months until it is completely healed."

The challenge has been spreading across the country through YouTube videos.

The 12-year-old patient's name is not being released, but his parents wanted to let the world know about the injury.

"We want teenagers and the general public to know that the 'salt and ice challenge' is extremely dangerous," said the parents in a written statement. "Videos on… social media do not accurately show the terrible injuries that can result."

Aballay is hoping he will not see any more of these patients. He encourages parents to initiate a conversation with their kids about the dangers of the challenge.

"Common sense, if something is hurting or causing a lot of pain, it would probably be a good thing not to [do it,]" said Aballay.