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Deodorant spray: If you aim at one spot for too long, you risk frostbite

Photo: imago stock&people / imago images/CHROMORANGE

So-called "challenges" are now an integral part of many social media such as TikTok. Young people in particular are constantly undergoing new tests of courage, which sometimes only seem bizarre, but can sometimes have serious consequences. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is now warning against the so-called "deodorant challenge", in which users spray deodorant spray on a skin area up to the absolute pain threshold or even inhale it. Such actions are highly hazardous to health and could even be life-threatening.

"In the meantime, deaths of young people in Germany are already being linked to the 'Deodorant Challenge' in the media," explains the BfR. Although the reports have not been confirmed, the possible consequences of deodorant abuse are so serious that the authority has issued an official warning. Imitation is not advisable, regardless of age. If you spray deodorant on a skin area for a long time, in extreme cases, temperature reductions to as low as -30 degrees could be achieved within a few seconds, it said. In addition to pain, there was a risk of massive skin damage, and the affected skin area could die.

Cold burns and heart failure

"Cold burns are a special case of frostbite and show similar symptoms to 'classic' burns. If a very cold substance comes into contact with the skin, the water freezes in the affected skin cells. Ice crystals are formed, which cause the proteins in this area to denature, i.e. to change their structure and thus no longer be able to perform their function," the experts explain. Pain receptors in the skin then no longer function, which means that no pain signal can be transmitted to the brain, so that spraying continues, even though there could already be massive skin damage."

In a second variant of the test of courage, aerosols of deodorant spray are inhaled. According to the BfR, this can "lead directly to loss of consciousness, heart failure and respiratory paralysis". Severe courses could be fatal or lead to permanent brain damage.