A YouTube stunt craze has led to a rise in teenage burns victims being treated at a specialist unit, medics say.
Staff at Morriston Hospital, Swansea say teenagers filming themselves doing dangerous stunts in the hope of becoming social media stars are ending up with serious burns.
Most are dealt with in outpatients but others have been admitted for skin grafts or need complex surgery.
One specialist nurse fears someone “could be killed or scarred for life.”
Plastic surgeon Jeremy Yarrow said: “I can understand there is pressure on young people to gain acceptance or boost their online profiles by doing such risky things as these challenges.
“But from the patients I see, the results can be very different, with some requiring life support treatment and many left with lifelong scars.”
He added: “In some severe and sometimes life-threatening cases, they are admitted to hospital for long periods of time for complex surgery resulting in long term mental and physical issues.”
Morriston’s Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery covers an area stretching from west and mid Wales, right across to south east Wales.
The hospital is being careful not to provide details of the challenges but say they involve “a variety of everyday substances”.
Staff nurse Ana Biney said: “They copy them from social media and YouTube and call them YouTube Challenges.
“They film each other doing the challenges and then upload them in the hope they will become social media stars.
“We have definitely seen an increase in the number of teenagers who have suffered quite serious burns because of this.”
What should you do if someone suffers burns?
- Put the affected area under cool running water for 20 minutes which takes the heat out of the injury.
- Call for help, which could be 999 or 111 or your GP.
- If clothing is on fire, immediately drop to the floor and roll to put out the flames.
- Don’t pat them out as this causes burns to the hands.
- Cover the burn with cling film – never cotton wool – which protects the burn but allows doctors or paramedics to look at it.
Ms Biney added: “Good first aid is essential. If you do it right, it can have a massive effect on the burn.
“But of course the best thing to do is not to take part in these stunts in the first place. They may look exciting and spectacular on social media but the reality is very different.”