Curling iron-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments


Curling iron-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments


Qazi K; Gerson L W; Christopher N C; Kessler E; Ida N


Academic Emergency Medicine




Objective: To describe curling iron-related injuries reported to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 1996. Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed data from NEISS, a weighted probability sample of emergency departments (EDs) developed to monitor consumer product-related injuries. The information reported includes patient demographics, injury diagnosis, body part injured, incident locale, patient disposition, and a brief narrative description. The authors reviewed the narrative in the hair care products category and abstracted records indicating the injury was caused by contact with a curling iron. Also analyzed were the design features of commonly available curling irons purchased from national discount department stores. Results: There were an estimated 105,081 hair care product-related injuries in the five-year period, of which 82,151 (78%) involved a curling iron. Seventy percent of injuries were to females. The patient's median age was 8 years (range 1 month to 96 years). The most commonly occurring injury was thermal burns (97%; 79,912/82,151). Ninety-eight percent of the injuries occurred in the home and 99% of the patients were discharged home from the ED. In patients <4 years old, 56% of burns occurred by grabbing or touching, while in those 10 years the burns occurred by contact while in use. In the older group 69% of burns were of the cornea. Most curling irons use small amounts of power, yet there are no standards for temperature settings or control. The cylinder containing the heating element is mostly exposed, and many irons do not have a power switch. Conclusions: The most common injury resulting from curling irons is thermal burns. The mechanisms and patterns of injury in developmentally distinct age groups suggest that many of these injuries could be prevented by public education and the re-engineering of curling irons.


accident/injury prevention; burns; consumer product safety; Emergency Medicine; eye burns; wounds and injuries


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Qazi K; Gerson L W; Christopher N C; Kessler E; Ida N, “Curling iron-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed June 19, 2021,

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