Danger: Tide Pod Challenge and Your Children

By: Dr. Eric Levene, Chester Pediatrics (White Plains, New York)

The Tide Pod Challenge has become a viral social media sensation.  Teenagers are eating these laundry pods and posting videos of themselves on social media.  They are then daring one another to follow suit. There have been many discussions on how this trend developed, but the Tide pod meme has caught on.

In the first half of January 2018, there have been 39 reposts of intentional Tide Pod ingestions, which is an increase from 52 for all of 2017.

So, what happens when a teen eats a Tide Pod?  The pods contain ethanol, polymers and hydrogen peroxide.  First, there is a bitter taste and you may become nauseated.  The pod’s coating dissolves in the mouth releasing the cleaning agents, causing a burning sensation.  A chemical burn could occur in your mouth, lips, tongue and checks.  In many cases the symptoms will dissipate in a few hours but you could end up hospitalized or worse.  The burn could cause difficulty breathing and esophageal burns.  These burns could require months of hospitalization and multiple surgical procedures.  In the most severe cases patients may have had seizures and may require ICU care.  As per Dr Michael Lynch a the Pittsburgh poison Center, the more you swallow the greater your risk. 

In response, both YouTube and Facebook are trying to remove these posts from their sites.  P&G, the makers of Tide, have taken to Twitter with a video of Super Bowl bound, New England Patriot, Rob Gronkowski to warn teens against this problem.

We recommend that you talk with your Tweens and Teens about this latest “Craze”.  Review with them the possible injuries that can occur with eating laundry detergent.  Discuss how to say “NO” to the challenge.

Please remember these  laundry pods are attractive to younger children who think they are candy and they should be kept high or locked away or both.

If you may have consumed any toxic substance, call the Nation Poison Hotline 1-800-222-1222.