“The Deodorant Challenge”

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Kids are finding more and more bizarre ways to amuse themselves. Recently there were the attempts to swallow large amounts of cinnamon, then there was eating Tide brand laundry detergent. The newest is called “the deodorant challenge,” and like the others, it’s causing some serious health issues.

How does it work? Teenagers are using aerosol deodorants, spraying them at a close distance onto their arms. Of course, such deodorant sprays are designed to be sprayed briefly onto the skin. But in the “challenge,” young people hold the deodorant can close to an area on their arms and keep spraying until it is so painful they can’t bear to continue. (And of course, this experience would probably be well-documented on social media.)

The damage appears immediately, or it can take days to develop. It may look at first like little red spots, sometimes that blister and peel.

Sprayed long enough, the aerosol can cause frostbite – or even second- or third-degree burns. According to one physician, Dr. David Smart, who has researched this teen phenomenon, “This kind of damage can cause permanent scarring.”

What should you do if you see signs of this “challenge” on your child? First step, gently wash the area with warm water and keep it moisturized, clean, and away from sunlight if it’s just a mild burn. However, if it looks like more than that, consult a doctor right away.

Since 1992, Dr. Robinson has worked in a variety counseling positions. She is also a popular author and speaker on topics ranging from childhood development and sexuality, teen issues, family dynamics including caring for elderly relatives, and church resources for families.

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