In disturbing photos shared on social media, middle-school aged children are "erasing" the skin off their arms as part of "The Eraser Challenge."
The so-called challenge involves participants rubbing their skin with an eraser as hard as they can while reciting the alphabet or other phrases. The result of the challenge is burns and skin abrasions, which could become infected.
"Anytime the skin barrier is broken down, there is an increased risk of skin infections," Angela Mattke, M.D. in Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester said in an email. "Burns, whether from heat or chemicals, result in a break of the natural skin barrier. The skin barrier’s job is to keep bad things out like potential infection causing bacteria (that live normally on the skin)."
And if the burn is serious enough the child may get an infection that requires antibiotics "or worse," Mattke said.
"There have been case reports of skin infections at the site of the burn becoming more serious and systemic and life threatening infections," she said.
On March 3, East Iredell Middle School in Statesville, N.C., posted a warning to parents on Facebook about the challenge, WCNC-TV reported.
"Kids are rubbing an eraser across their skin while having to do or say something," the school said in the Facebook post. "It's causing serious burns and we've seen several cases of this at EIMS."
The challenge appears to have been around for a year or longer.
Follow Mary Bowerman on Twitter: @MaryBowerman
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