Silly Bandz warning not a hoax
Those of us who spend a good deal of time on the internet tend to be wary of all the warnings that get passed around by email or through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Many times the messages are out of date or ill-informed, though the intention of the original poster was to help. Sometimes, the original poster intentional created a hoax. In the case of the current warnings about Silly Bandz injuries, the warnings are authentic. This is not a hoax.
What are Silly Bandz?
Silly Bandz are silicone bands that come in a variety of different colours and shapes. The original bands are worn around the wrist as bracelets, but there are now Silly Ringz, as well as Silly Necklaces and Silly Bandz Carabinerz that allow kids to show off their collections.
Silly Bandz are a huge fashion fad with kids, and according to the product’s official blog they are a hit with certain professional athletes too. They are now so popular that Canadian teen sensation Justin Bieber has teamed up with the manufacturer. A new Justin Bieber theme pack is currently available for pre-order on the BCP Imports web site.
Started as elastic bands
Silly Bandz originated in Asia, where their creator substituted silicone for the natural rubber in elastic bands for office use. The new bands, shaped like animals, were more environmentally friendly because silicone is more durable than rubber. The original designer earned a national design award in Japan for the concept.
It is this same elasticity and durability that presents a concern if kids wear too many Silly Bandz at a time, or if they leave them on too long. The Bandz, just like an elastic, can cut into the skin and create lacerations. This is exactly what happened to 4-year-old Even Steel, of Seneca Falls, New York earlier this month. The boy’s injuries are described in warnings circulating on the internet. There were red marks where his wrist had been constricted, and in some places the child was bleeding. The child had been wearing layers of Silly Bandz, and as his father removed them he discovered that some bands on the bottom layer were actually embedded in Evan’s skin.
Risk of blood clots
Both a Fox News article and the hoax analysis from the Urban Legends Reference Pages mention the risk of thrombophlebitis associated with wearing the Silly Bandz bracelets. This condition, often simply abbreviated phlebitis, occurs when a blood clot causes swelling in the veins of the legs, neck or arms. The symptoms of phlebitis include pain, redness, swelling and warmth in the affected area. They may also be accompanied by fever or shortness of breath.
Phlebitis is usually associated with remaining inactive during long plane or car trips, or with injuries and illnesses that keep people bedridden for long periods of time. Other risk factors include certain types of cancer, wearing a pace maker, smoking, being pregnant or obese, or having partial paralysis due to a stroke. Obviously this is not a condition one would usually see in young, healthy children. Dr. Gregory Simonian, chief of endovascular surgery and director of the Heart Vascular Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center, explains that the risk is minimal for children who wear only a few Silly Bandz for short periods of time. But if too many Bandz are worn together, particularly if they are kept on for a long time, they can act as a tourniquet, cutting off the blood flow to the hand. Because this is a relatively low-pressure area it doesn’t take much to constrict blood flow at the wrist, especially in a child.
Safety precautions for wearing Silly Bandz
Common sense is the best way to prevent injuries, including thrombophlebitis, from wearing Silly Bandz. Parents should limit the number of Bandz a child wears at any given time, and see that they are regularly removed for activities such as bathing and sleeping. Kids who want to show off a lot of Silly Bandz at once can take advantage of the Silly Necklaces and Silly Bandz Carabinerz, rather than trying to wear too many bracelets around their wrists.
Parents should check that Silly Bandz are not too tight. If the Bandz are leaving impressions in the skin it’s time to take them off. Other signs to check for are any swelling, numbness or other changes in sensation, or change in the colour of the skin. The Mayo Clinic advises going to the emergency room if pain or swelling are severe, or if there is shortness of breath or high fever. These are signs of deep vein thrombosis.
Susan Berfield, “The man behind the Bandz.” Business Week
Colleen Cappon, “Dr. Manny: Silly Bandz bracelet trend may be dangerous for kids.” Fox News
“Thrombophlebitis..” Mayo Clinic
“Wrist risk.” Urban Legends Reference Pages