Overall, the study authors found that about six in 10 posts only highlighted the benefits of hitting hard, while only two in 10 mentioned possible risks.
“What we found was not necessarily misinformation, but often a lack of information,” Pagani said. “A lot of times, the risk is just not included.”
In addition to increasing the risk of facial acne in acne-prone sufferers, Pagani says that any topical skin medication used before the whack is essentially trapped under the petroleum ointment, so it may be absorbed more deeply — and for longer — — than initially expected.
“Right now, thumping is one of the relatively innocuous things you can find on TikTok,” admits Pagani. “But even in the case of most benign beauty trends, viewers are expected to have accurate information from reliable sources backed by science based on data and research. Because other trends or beauty products are definitely more Potentially hazardous. Like a fight.”
The findings were recently published in the journal Dermatology Clinic.
Kelly Garrett, dean of Ohio State’s School of Communication, is concerned with this broader issue.
“It’s no wonder that people end up looking for health information in these digital spaces,” Garrett said, noting that social media is familiar, easy to use, and can be an empowering way to conduct research.
Medical professionals are not the only providers of useful health information. “For example, people with cancer can also have important insights,” Garrett said.
But the problem, he noted, is that “on social media, it’s not always obvious what content creators are aiming for.
“Posts by healthcare providers are often intended to be informative, but other creators may be more interested in providing entertainment, convincing consumers to buy something, or just driving traffic to their content,” Garrett said. “Consumers who misunderstand the creator’s goals also end up being misled by the content.”
All of this means it’s critical that social media users be aware of the risks involved in searching for health information online, said Garrett, who was not involved in the study.