Go straight... to the hospital: Doctors warn of the dangers of hair straighteners

It's party season, and smooth hair is de rigueur. But the devices are causing serious burns

Doctors have warned of the dangers of hair straighteners after a near doubling of burns cases in children – and Christmas is the peak time for accidents.

Children are up to three times more likely to be injured in the weeks after Christmas, according to new research. Most of the children injured are aged under two.

The study said that owners need to be better informed about handling the devices. It recommended that straighteners be put in heat-resistant pouches after use, to reduce the risk of burns.

Retail research revealed that one in three women own hair tongs. The number of consumers owning straighteners rose from 4.6 million in 2007 to 5.3 million in 2010, a jump of 15 per cent. Nor is it just women driving the boom, with one in five men claiming to own one.

"Hair-straightening devices can cause significant, 'full-thickness' injuries," says Dr Julia Sarginson, who led the research at the burns centre at Bristol's Frenchay Hospital. "Our study shows that infants and toddlers are at most risk, and these are preventable burns that warrant our attention."

The researchers, whose findings appear in Burns journal, say that straighteners have become more popular over the past decade because of increased availability, a fall in prices and the fashion for straight hair. A popular Christmas gift, they retail for as little as £20.

A 2011 review by Electrical Safety Council warned: "The hair straightener [may not be] shaped or decorated like a toy... nevertheless, the brightly coloured enclosure might still be considered appealing as a plaything by young children."

The council adviced parents "to keep the hot surfaces away from exploring fingers", even though tongs are being increasingly sold in heat-proof bags or clips. In the absence of effective legislation the best preventative measure remains "education of the users".

A potential hazard is that the plates can reach 220C, hotter than household appliances such as an iron, at 180C. A further hazard is the length of time it takes for them to cool after use; the researchers say that straighteners can cause burns up to 15 minutes after being turned off.

The South West Regional Paediatric Burns Centre in Bristol looked at the growing number of cases and the damage caused. Doctors found there had been 155 cases admitted over a five-year period, and that the number of cases had increased from 20 to 45 a year. Eight cases were serious enough to require skin grafts.

Seven out of 10 injuries were in children under two. The average age for injured children under five was 17 months for boys and 21 months for girls.

Merry ch... whoops!

* Drunken tumbles cause a large share of party-season injuries.

* Christmas trees are responsible for more than 1,000 injuries a year.

* Humble fairy lights account for around 350 accidents – from electrical shocks to burns.

* If you're in high heels, watch out for snapped stilettos – and ligaments.

* Thinking of tripping the light fantastic? Beware dance-related injuries such as pulled muscles.

Connor Cazalet-Smith

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

    £15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

    £60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

    Day In a Page

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms