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Last week, social networks and various media outlets echoed some videos posted on Instagram in which a well-known influencer commented on the benefits of using an anti-hemorrhoidal ointment to improve the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.

Despite the fact that this well-known trick is older than the black thread, every time someone takes it for a walk, it triumphs.

To what extent does


harm health?


do we feel fatally attracted to grandmother's remedies

(especially if they go hand in hand with someone with millions of followers)?

From Dr. Google to Dr. TikTok

In 2013 I opened a blog about health and nutrition outreach.

My goal (I got a bit over the top, I admit) was to stand up to

Dr. Google

and offer a science-based alternative to those people who came to said tool looking for information on health and ended up entangled in comments of dubious origin from a any forum.

Ten years later the story has changed a lot


And not for the better.

It is true that

Dr. Google

has greatly improved his selection processes (the forums no longer appear among the first search results), but we did not expect a tough competitor to emerge:

Dr. TikTok or Dr. Instagram


This has meant a paradigm shift.


a few years ago one had to do an active search on the net to find information

(for example, "how to improve my dark circles"), now it is

the information that comes out to meet us

every time we open a social network.

And along with information,

misinformation, hoaxes and fake news


Hemorrhoids and dark circles: the remedy may be worse than the disease

Although, a priori, the fact of

applying an antihemorrhoidal ointment in the "wrong eye"

only makes us laugh, the truth is that we can mess it up very brown.

It is true that these ointments have active ingredients such as ephedrine, which is a vasoconstrictor.

The theory is that, in the same way that the ointment "shrinks" hemorrhoids, it could also "shrink" the veins in the dark circles by reducing edema.

In practice, the problem is that

the skin of the eyelids is much thinner than the skin at "ground zero"

and is not prepared to apply this drug.

What could happen to us?

From an

allergic reaction

to some compound, such as benzocaine (a common anesthetic in these ointments) or even that the remedy is worse than the disease and

we end up with more dark circles

than before starting the "treatment".

Some of these ointments have zinc oxide that is photosensitizing, that is, contact with the sun can cause a reaction that could even pigment the skin, darken it... and we

end up like a panda bear


From TikTok to the hospital: the "Sleepy chicken challenge"

Beyond the possible side effects of applying an antihemorrhoidal ointment where it does not belong, the truth is that sometimes the advice that goes viral on social networks can have fatal consequences.

A few months ago the FDA had to issue a statement in the United States warning of the risks of the

"NyQuil chicken challenge" or "Sleepy chicken Challenge"


At the beginning of the cold season, videos became popular in which 'tiktokers' put

chicken breasts in a pan, spraying them with a well-known blue syrup indicated for coughs

and colds.

The problem is that boiling a medicine and evaporating the water increases the concentration of the active ingredient.

The FDA also warned that the

problem was not just eating this "concoction" but inhaling the drug's vapors

while cooking because toxic by-products that damage the lungs can be formed.

And it is not the only alert that the FDA has launched.

A couple of years ago there were

deaths due to the "Benadryl Challenge"

, another viral challenge that consists of

causing hallucinations by ingesting large doses of this antihistamine


What can we do?

It is true that it is difficult to put doors to the field.

For every fact-checking


that denies a hoax, 300 new profiles appear on social networks, generating false content.

However, it is not fair to associate TikTok or Instagram with disinformation, since these social networks are only means of communication.

In the same way that a television channel can have documentaries, news, films and reality shows on its schedule, within social networks there is room for all kinds of profiles, with a small percentage spreading hoaxes (which, yes, make more noise than that of evidence-based disseminators).

In my opinion,

platforms should have more responsibility when it comes to controlling the information that is published on them


In the same way that we have assumed that some key words or images are censored (such as the famous "nipple"), algorithms and artificial intelligence systems should detect this type of viral challenges and stop them.

Especially since there are harmless hoaxes, and others that are behind

people who belong to intelligence services, experts in social psychology

, who pursue goals that go beyond leaving dark circles under our eyes like a panda bear.

The solution?

Sanctions and pedagogy

As we commented on these pages a few months ago, already in

2018 the European Union

defined a

Code of Good Practices

in the field of disinformation to detect and punish the "dark side".

But without a doubt, these strategies must be accompanied by awareness and pedagogy campaigns, especially in children and young people who have already grown up in the era of social networks and whose referents are influencers.

It would be very irresponsible of us to abandon them in the arms of

Dr. Tiktok


According to the criteria of The Trust Project

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