Alice and the hookah: Shisha related burns in kids

Dr Jason Diab1,2,3, Ms Madeleine Jacques1, Dr John Vandervord1,2, Prof Andrew Holland1,2

1The Burns Unit, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and The Children’s Hospital Burns Research Institute, Sydney, Australia, 2Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 3School of Medicine, The University of Notre Dame, Sydney, Australia


The majority of burn injuries in the paediatric age group occur in the home environment and are preventable. Water pipe smoking, commonly known as shisha, is an old practice of tobacco smoking dating from the 16th century with the use of hot coals and water in social gatherings at homes or cafes. The increasing use of shisha worldwide in youth raises public health concerns regarding its detrimental health effects and potential for serious thermal injury. Our aim is to identify and classify epidemiological trends of shisha related burns in the paediatric age group across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
A retrospective review from January 2010 – January 2020 at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead Burns Unit. All burn injuries of age less than 16 years that attended or were referred to the unit were included in this study.
There were 10 patients who presented with a shisha related burn injury. There was an equal distribution of males to females with all burns occurring in the home or a park. The most common types of injury were a full thickness or mid-dermal burns respectively, three of which required split thickness skin grafting.
Shisha smoking is part of many cultures that has many potential burn hazards to children and family. Educational awareness targeted to shisha users can bring a better understanding about its potential for burn injury in children.


Jason is a surgical registrar with previous clinical and research experience in paediatric and adult burns. He has a strong passion for burn education and prevention.

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