When the ice bucket challenge came out in the summer of 2014, it immediately spread worldwide with celebrities, athletes and politicians taking part in the fun. It was done in the name of ALS research, and helped raise awareness and funds for a good cause. Forbes reports that over $115 million was raised by the viral internet trend, and has led to breakthroughs in the field.
Since then, hundreds of challenges have come and gone without being attached to any such cause; the most popular being the mannequin challenge that went viral in late 2016. Though the popularity of the mannequin challenge was never in doubt, it didn’t raise money or awareness for anything in particular.
The latest trend that is sweeping across schools in the UK is one that not only doesn’t stand for anything, but instead has been sending some children to the hospital. In the “salt & ice” challenge, children and teenagers have been putting the two substances on their skin to create a chemical reaction that causes burns similar to frostbite.
When salt is added to ice, it lowers the temperature of the cube which in turn draws the heat out of skin cells, reduces blood flow and can result in something akin to third degree burns. It’s a dangerous trick that has been around for a long time in schoolyards, but with the advent of social media is now gaining popularity.
Though people who grew up in North America have likely heard of it at some point in their childhood, kids are now trying it by themselves thinking that videos of the challenge are fake or blown out of proportion. Some of them have injured their skin enough to even need to go to the hospital.
The NSPCC (a national charity that fights the abuse of children) has issued a warning against the challenge, saying: “the rise of social media has contributed to increasing peer pressure amongst children and this ‘craze’ is another clear example of the risks”.
Some teens have even reported nerve damage to the tissue on their hands and arms, with possible long-term ramifications. Like the craze that saw kids break their own thumb ligaments after following an online-guide, the salt and ice challenge can have extreme effects.