Are Selfies Spreading Lice Among Teens?
According to an article in the New York Daily News, the popularity of “selfie” photos is having an unintended consequence: a rise in cases of head lice among teens.
“People are doing selfies like every day, as opposed to going to photo booths years and years ago. So you’re probably having much more contact with other people’s heads,” Dr. Sharon Rink, a Wisconsin pediatrician, said.
The problem comes when kids taking selfies of themselves put their heads together in order to fit multiple faces in the picture. Head-to-head contact is a primary source of the spread of head lice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“When your head touches someone else’s for a selfie, lice can crawl into your hair from their head, using their nasty little claws to grab onto your hair strands,” Claire Roberts, the CEO of Lice Clinics of Canada told Women’s Health.
Ways Head Lice Spreads Among Teens
Lice don’t fly or jump, so the only way that they can spread is by physical contact with another human’s head. The CDC says that, “Head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice” is the most common way of contracting the pests. Contracting lice can also happen when kids sit close together in a car, when they sleep in close proximity, or when they share hair utensils and accessories.
Lice outbreaks typically slow as children get older, as teens don’t do as much sharing of clothing or sleep close together like younger children do. The selfie phenomenon is changing this.
“Teenagers don’t usually get lice because they’re not sharing hats and things like that,” Dr. Rink said. “And lice can’t jump, so the only way they can transmit lice is touching their heads together, and that’s happening with all these selfies.”
“The primary way you can get head lice is when your head comes in direct contact with the head of an infested individual,” Roberts said. “Head-to-head contact like that doesn’t guarantee that the infestation will spread, but it gives lice the best opportunity to move from the hair of the infested person to your hair.”
In addition to avoiding head-to-head contact, other ways to prevent the spread of lice include washing and sterilizing combs and brushes that may have been shared. Any clothing that is suspected of carrying lice should be placed in a dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.
Is there an Effective Lice Treatment for Teens
Lice Clinics of Canada is the largest network of lice treatment centers in the world, offering a 90-minute treatment with its proprietary AirAllé medical device. The AirAllé is an Health Canada-cleared clinically proven device that kills live lice and 99.2 percent of eggs through dehydration.
There are currently more than 230 clinics in the Lice Clinics of Canada network. Our clinics have collectively treated over 200,000 cases of head lice. Our network is expanding each month allowing for closer options for busy parents who tire of weeks-long battles with lice using traditional pesticide-based treatments due to developing immunity to the chemicals used by the most popular lice products. Most lice in the United States and many other countries are now resistant to the most common over-the-counter products, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
For more information about Lice Clinics of Canada and our treatment options to get rid of head lice, visit www.liceclinicsofcanada.ca.