TikTok Trends: Eye Bag Hack, What the Heel?, and Surprise Worms

Jay Lankau

October 25, 2021

The seasons are breezing by and it's now all spooky, all the time. Big movie franchise returns like Halloween and Scream are the talk of the town, as well as newer scares: Netflix's battle royal–style hit series, Squid Game, has taken social media by storm. Oh, and remember when Facebook and all of its services went down, and it took an entire day to fix? Well, TikTok was still up, hitting us with all sorts of good, bad, and just plain ugly trends.

The Good: Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Temporary Eye Tightener

With over 5.2 million likes, this TikTok video from Trinidad Sandoval (@trinidad1967) went viral on almost every platform, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. In it, Sandoval films one of her beauty secrets. She uses the Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener on her under-eye bags, keeping the camera rolling as the product gets to work (with a bit of fanning to "speed it up"). The novelty of the video is that we get to see the product working in real-time, with no dodgy "before and after" photos or suspicious jump cuts. Following the video, the Peter Thomas Roth product has sold out pretty much everywhere.

One of TikTok's dermatologist members Dustin Portela, DO(@208skindoc), hopped on to explain the science behind this seemingly magical eye cream.

"The active ingredient that causes this result is a silicate," he explains. "When the product is exposed to air, the silicates start to form a lattice, or a network, and they tighten. And they do dramatically decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles, but the effect is temporary."

Sandoval claims the reduced-bag look lasts all day, which is possible, but Portela says similar products may only last minutes to hours. Portela also says, however, that the Peter Thomas Roth product contains other beneficial ingredients that can help eye wrinkles and bags over time: "[It] does contain other good ingredients that I would love to see in eye creams."

(Medscape and WebMD do not endorse this product nor do they receive financial compensation from the company that manufactures it.)

The Bad: Lidocaine Heels Hack

TikTok user ChristyClips (@christyclips) shared a video that gained over 960,000 likes. The video text reads "My secret to wearing heels for more than 6 hours," and in the video itself she sprays both of her feet with a lidocaine spray that she claims you can find at Target. There are thousands of comments, one of them reading, "it's actually wild that we're applying a topical anesthetic to look hot…still gonna buy it tho."

That user isn't wrong: Lidocaine is an anesthetic applied to the skin and is usually used for numbing during certain medical procedures. It's also an ingredient in products used to temporarily numb pain, such as salves for sunburns, insect bites, and poison ivy. Lidocaine works by blocking the signals at the nerve endings in the skin, which is a slippery slope to go down if you're using it all the time (more on that in a second).

Stanford/Harvard anesthesiologist Anthony Kaveh, MD (@medicalsecrets), responded to the video by warning against using lidocaine spray in this way.

Kaveh says, "Not only is it minimally effective, but also super dangerous, especially if you're diabetic or have any nerve problems."

In the comments, he further explains that feet, in general, are a dangerous body part to numb. If you can't feel your feet, you will probably ignore or otherwise be unable to notice any potential injuries. Because people with diabetes may already be prone to loss of sensation in their feet, this trend can be life-threatening to them.

The Ugly: Ivermectin

The dewormer trend has made its way onto every single platform imaginable: Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and, of course, TikTok. Ivermectin has become such a widespread phenomenon that it still grips the news cycle, especially when well-known media personalities like Joe Rogan, and even a lawmaker, tout the medicine as a "cure" for COVID-19.

There are plenty of other places where you can read more in-depth articles on what ivermectin is, what it's used for, and why you shouldn't take it to treat COVID-19, so we'll try to keep things concise.

Ivermectin is essentially an antiparasitic drug used to treat river blindness, intestinal roundworm, and even cases of head lice in humans, but it's also used to deworm pets and livestock (especially horses). Some fringe doctors have used unsubstantiated studies to suggest that ivermectin is a "wonder drug" that can treat cases of COVID-19, but these claims have little to nothing backing them up. At the end of the day, ivermectin has not been proven effective at treating COVID-19.

Some who are taking ivermectin claim on TikTok that it really does work because they're seeing worms in their stool — worms that they didn't even know about! By taking a look at these claims, doctors have deduced that what these people are seeing is probably not worms but intestinal mucus or the inner lining of their intestines (which sheds because of the strength of the drug). 

Dr.Sam.MD (@dr.sam.md), a Chicago hospitalist, has answered quite a few questions on TikTok through videos and livestreams. He explains the issues with ivermectin here:"[Ivermectin is] approved to treat certain infections in humans, specifically parasites. It is also used to treat parasites in livestock, and in animals, and in horses and whatnot. The problem is that the ivermectin dosages for livestock are different from the dosages meant for humans, and the compound is slightly different as well. So when we go and ingest ivermectin at dosages and formulations meant for animals, well, it can be quite toxic to humans."

It turns out that taking a medication used to treat farm animals weighing up to 2000 pounds is not safe for humans. There are other side effects as well: nausea, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and even the risk of coma. People all across the United States have been hospitalized due to these side effects, which can turn deadly, too. Let it be known: You are not a horse.

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