We spoke to an expert to find the truth behind the urban legend
Here’s the gist of the story (which can be read in its entirety here): In a conversation about whether nipples can grow back, a Tumblr user revealed that when they were in middle school, some kids liked to play a game which consisted of them spraying their nipples with Axe (kids are bored these days) for exactly sixty seconds before flicking the nipple for an awesome surprise.
Here's what happens when the teacher leaves a room of kids on their own, according to this anonymous Tumblr user:
"At 60 seconds, they watched, giggling, as the young man put his hand up to his breast and flicked. to their horror, the nipple did come off and, at ballistic speeds, soared across the table and hit me right in the cheek. And stuck. So everyone who was aware of this spectacle is sitting there in stunned silence, all while blood gushed from the nipple hole of the young man. I am so stunned that I am literally incapable of moving, having astral-projected so far away from this disembodied nipple that i may as well have been a dead man."
Who among us, if confronted by the feeling of a cold and bloody nipple against our cheeks, would not do the same?
[post_ads]There are many interesting questions here: Is it physically possible for a nipple to fly at "ballistic speeds"? Why didn’t anyone get sick from so much body spray in the air before the nipple even took flight? Why did this young man have a "breast" to begin with? (If you're in the same boat as this unfortunate gentleman and would like to work on your pecs, try the Men's Health Ultimate Upper-Body Workout.)
But here's the most important question: Is there any kernel of truth to this whatsoever? Is nipple death by body spray really a thing?
Listen, we know what you're thinking: this is total B.S. But people on the internet have been earnestly asking this question since at least 2014, when teens were warned against the aerosol challenge, which involved them emptying the contents of a spray can of deodorant against their skin until they could no longer stand it. Even last year, there were poor souls wandering through the hallowed halls of Reddit to ask whether they could freeze their nips off with just a spray can and a prayer.
Fortunately, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, was able to solve the mystery for us. And according to him, the story that’s now been shared and liked over 200,000 times couldn’t possibly be true.
“Ingredients in the spray, including fragrances, maybe cause skin irritation if excessively used,” Zeichner told us. “This is commonly known as a chemical burn. The reaction translates to red, itchy, irritated skin.”
Of course, how much spray you'd have to use to actually achieve a chemical burn depends on your skin type. Some people may be able to withstand a great deal of spray; others may go red only a few seconds into the harrowing experience. In either case, your nipple will be able to withstand the experience, even if you're in pain for hours later.
In order for a nipple to actually fall off, it would have to undergo tissue necrosis (death) and, according to Zeichner, you’re just not going to be able to achieve that by spraying some deodorant at your chest. Actual tissue death, Zeichner said, “could happen to tips of the fingers or toes from severe frostbite.”
“In the event that you develop skin irritation from any product, make sure to wash it off immediately,” Zeichner advised. “Then apply a gentle, petrolatum based moisturizer to help repair the skin barrier.”
So there’s your answer. Will spraying your nipple with Axe for a minute hurt? Probably. Will you need to get the burn treated? Maybe. But your nipple? It’s not going anywhere.