Teens have always been partial to risky behaviors (remember whip-its?) but a new and bizarre trend has health officials totally dumbfounded. Several news outlets report that some teens are using Burt’s Bees lip balm, a popular lip moisturizer made of natural products including beeswax, to get high. It’s called “beezin’,” and doctors say it can be dangerous.
The trend of beezin’ involves rubbing Burt’s Bees lip balm not on their intended target, but on the tops of the eyelids. Why? The tingly sensation commonly associated with Burt’s Bees apparently simulates the effect, when applied to the eyelids, of being high or even buzzed.
"It's the peppermint oil that's causing the burning sensation and I suppose some people think that is kind of funny," Dr. Brett Cauthen at Today Clinic in Oklahoma City told Fox affiliate KOKH-TV.
Sound harmless? It’s not.
Doctors warn that beezin’ can be hazardous to one’s health. According to WSAW-TV, the trend can lead to serious risks, including allergic reactions or even pink eye-like symptoms. One health official said it can also help spread the herpes virus.
“If you use the lip balm on the cold sore and your friend borrows the lip balm, puts it on their eyelid, the herpes virus could be transmitted from the lip balm to a person's eye … And that person could go blind,” Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a medical toxicologist, told WSAW-TV.
A serious infection could even cost a teen his or her life.
A representative for Burt’s Bees responded to the reports after several teens posted photos of themselves beezin’ on various social media sites.
"There are lots of natural things that probably shouldn't go in eyes — dirt, twigs, leaves, food — and our lip balm. Burt's Bees tests all of its products, including the Beeswax Lip Balm, to ensure they are safe for their intended use," the rep told New York Daily News. "We recommend that people use our products as directed and we will make every effort to ensure that the intended use of our lip balm is clearly communicated."
While beezin’ isn’t illegal, experts say illicit drug use among U.S. teens remains high, due in large part to the increasing popularity of marijuana. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2012, 36 percent of U.S. 12th-graders had used marijuana at least once. At the same time, the perceived risk of smoking marijuana among 12th-graders has declined, probably reflecting the recent movement to legalize the drug for adults.