"Deodorant Challenge," Subject of a 2010 Academic Study, Burns Teens Again

It'll make your skin temp drop at least 76 degrees in 15 seconds.


Seemingly as long as there has been spray deodorant, teens have been using it to give each other painful aerosol burns. By spraying another’s skin at at a very close proximity for as long as the other could stand it, teens have been issuing cold burns for years: Brrrr! Aerosol sprays are a silly way to get frostbite, an MSNBC headline from 2010 cheerfully exclaims.

Those terrible cold burns — which can result in frostbite-like symptoms — became so common in the early part of this decade that they were subject to a study in the journal Pediatrics.

They haven’t been left to the history, though. Aerosol burns are back: The latest painful story comes via a mom’s terrifying Facebook post running down the “Deodorant Challenge,” which allegedly left her 15-year-old daughter severely burned.

Jamie Prescott of suburban Yate, England, writes in a Facebook post that her daughter had fallen victim to the so-called “challenge,” which according to Prescott “involves spraying deodorant on to someone else for as long as possible.” Sharing photographs of her daughter’s arm with apparent aerosol burns, Prescott, 42, said her daughter suffered burns that remained visible and swollen three weeks from when the initial incident occurred.

Warning: The images below are kind of terrible.

According to Prescott, the Deodorant Challenge “is currently doing the rounds in Yate,” and Fox News reports that her daughter, Ellie, has since transferred schools. (The phenomenon is reportedly present at Ellie’s new school, too.)

“It’s a hole in my arm and there’s all this yellow stuff coming out,” Ellie said of her wounds, according to Fox News. “My friend did it a year ago and has a scar, but said it wasn’t as painful as mine. When I show people my injury they lift up their sleeves and show that they’ve all had it done too.”

Reports of teens suffering cold burns from the challenge began resurfacing about a year ago in the U.K. Sara Pears Stanley posted pictures of her own daughter’s arms after having allegedly participated in the challenge.

Video of a teen giving an aerosol burn to his own arm, reportedly requiring a skin graft, also surfaced online about a year ago:

The authors of that Pediatrics study explain how it works in their 2010 abstract: “The spray-nozzle to skin-surface distance was approximately 5 cm, and the spraying lasted approximately 15 seconds. Under laboratory conditions, the deodorant in use was able to induce a decline in temperature of [76 degrees Fahrenheit].”

That is a brutal drop in temperature. If a person’s typical skin temperature is a few degrees less than your body’s 98.6 degrees, that creates a dramatic drop in to below freezing at very close range. No wonder the burns that result are so severe.

While certainly not the most outrageous Teen Challenge to surface this year — that award goes to the supposed “Condom Snorting Challenge” — this one is certainly no less dangerous. And while it’s unlikely that the challenge is being adopted by all or even most teens, it probably wouldn’t hurt to remind your kid that aerosol burns aren’t great.

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