An unnamed Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, boy joined a dangerous new meme this week when he burned a large Christian Cross on his back using salt and ice and posted the video on YouTube.
The 12-year-old zealot took up a challenge sweeping the internet that instructs young Christians to draw crosses on their backs using regular table salt and press an ice pack against the design. The process induces an endothermic reaction, which usually results in serious burns and scarring. The phenomenon, according to New York’s Daily News, is known in religious circles as the “salt-and-ice challenge.”
The craze has affected so many kids that officials at a Philadelphia middle school put out a PSA warning parents about the challenge in April.
“The injury is similar to frostbite that can result in mild cold injury but it could also increase in severity based on the time the ice is applied,” said Dr. Ariel Aballay of the West Penn Hospital Burn Center. “The patient [pictured] went for a few minutes, but there have been cases that went for six or seven minutes that resulted in third-degree injuries.”
The mother of the boy pictured drove him to the hospital a day after he participated in the salt-and-ice challenge. She told the press under conditions of anonymity that her son’s injuries were second degree burns and that doctors expected significant scarring.