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Are selfies or over-cautious parents to blame for head lice epidemic?

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 14/09/2015. Are selfies or over-cautious parents to blame for head lice epidemic?Tags: Parenting

There have been many reports of a head lice epidemic of late with many schools having to send home letters in the first few weeks back. Various theories are being put forward to explain the rise in head lice.

Mary McQuillan, a California-based lice expert, last year claimed that the selfie craze is causing this head lice epidemic, especially among teenagers.

Typically, head lice is more common in younger children who are prone to share hats and have more head to head contact than older children. However, when teens take selfies they lean their heads towards each other providing an opportune moment for lice to spread to another host.

Mary says: "I've seen a huge increase of lice in teenagers.... teens are sticking their heads together every day to take phone pictures. Every teen I've treated, I ask about selfies - and they admit that they are taking them every day. I think parents need to be aware, and teenagers need to be aware too."

Some doctors have, however, disputed this claim as an exaggeration. Dr. Nick Celano of Los Angleles Medical Centre, told the Daily Mail;

".... it takes contact for an extended period of time, and 10 seconds is not what I'd consider an extended period of time". Dr. Celano goes on to say that it is much more common for head lice to spread through shared bedding, hats or combs.

The selfie theory is not fully rebutted though. Many teenagers take much longer than ten seconds to achieve the 'perfect pose' and with many teens taking upwards of five a day, selfies could well be to blame for the spread of lice among teens.

Another theory is that that over cautious parents may also be to blame for the rise in head lice.

A recent study conducted in America shows that head lice in at least 25 states have mutated and are now immune to prescription treatment. Part of this growing resilience may be due to parents using lice treatment before head lice have been contracted, as a preventative measure.

Dr Rukshan Goonewardena warns parents against this practise. He told the Irish Independent;

"Parents should not use chemical treatment for prevention of lice. This is of no benefit and can give rise to the emergence of lice that are resistant to the treatment. Lice treatment should only be used if the diagnosis is confirmed."

Read our article for more information on how to treat head lice here.


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