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Selfies Causing More Head Lice Cases?

Long-considered the Atlanta-area’s head lice expert, we’ve been contacted by three separate news agencies over the past couple of days – to provide comment on the myriad of recent stories relating to “SELFIES CAUSING HEAD LICE OUTBREAK.”   It seems that there’s some hysteria (but isn’t there always when it comes to head lice?) surrounding this newest “worry.”

My take –

There’s truly no scientific evidence that proves the theory that selfies are causing additional or increased cases of head lice in adolescents/teens.  When I started Elimilice, and even as reported by the CDC and other well-respected health organizations across the globe, I expected to provide services to mostly children in the 3 to 11 (year) age range.  However, now in our fifth year of business, we’ve always had a very strong representation of clients that are older – in the 12 to 17 (year) range.

Nevertheless, head lice do indeed pass predominantly from head-to-head contact and it would appear, in this “digital age,” that the prevalence of opportunities for such contact have increased.

Parents mention to me all the time “my child doesn’t have head-to-head contact with other children so I don’t understand how s/he could have contracted head lice.”  I then challenge them to just watch their child/ren in a school or social setting because:
  • There’s a lot of collaborative work, reading and other activities occurring in classroom settings these days which often renders children and adolescents touching heads with others.  (The days of children lined up in desks watching a teacher give lessons only are pretty much gone.  Children sit on rugs, at tables, in small groups, over microscopes, etc. – in very close proximity – and often with  heads touching.)
  • Children (of all ages) enjoy playing handheld or electronic games and watching videos/looking at tablets, laptops, etc. – together – often with head to head contact.
  • Adolescents and teens share emails and texts while peering at their phones – head to head.
  • Children and adults of all ages are indeed engaging in taking selfies with friends/others which by their nature do “encourage” head to head contact.
So, the conclusion may be drawn that the way children, tweens and teens interact now might indeed be providing an opportunity for an increase in head lice cases.  Please remember, though, that there truly are methods to prevent head lice, and I personally do not believe that forbidding your children from taking selfies (or similar bans) is one of them.

We’re here to help if you need us.

 Selfies causing head lice