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Can Selfies Cause Head Lice?

They’re all over instagram, Facebook, and other social media sites: the ubiquitous “selfie”.  But before you and your friends go squishing your cheeks next to each other to take that group “selfie” to post on your favorite site, you might want to think twice.  Head-lice treatment centers are reporting that selfies are causing an uptick in head lice infestations among teens and college students because the bugs are literally hopping from one person’s head to another while a selfie is being taken.  However, health authorities say that these claims haven’t yet been substantiated by evidence.

Not Everyone Convinced by Claims of Selfie-Induced Lice 

Others, such as Dr. Richard J. Pollock of the Harvard School of Public Health, says that there is no uptick in the number of lice cases due to selfies.  He argues that it’s a marketing ploy used by so-called “louse salons”, or lice de-infestation clinics across the country.  Sheila Fassler is one such “louse salon” owner, but she’s also got her credentials as a nurse whose been practicing for 28 years.  Fassler and her husband, a doctor, opened their louse salon in Charlotte, North Carolina and say that their clientele has changed from children to mainly teens and college students.  Sheila says that prior to the advent of selfies, teens and college students weren’t putting their heads together very much, which allows the lice to jump from head to head.

The Signs of Head Lice and How to Avoid Getting Them

Although the “louse salon” claims haven’t been proven, you can go a long way in identifying and preventing a lice infestation.  First, recognize that a lice infestation usually begins with itching.  If you’re already to that point, you’ll need a prescription or special over-the-counter medication to treat it.  However, you can prevent an infestation from occurring in the first place by avoiding head-to-head contact, not sharing clothing that is worn on or near the head (e.g. scarves, hats, barrettes or ribbons), not sharing combs or brushes, and not lying on beds, couches, pillows, carpets or stuffed animals that have recently been used by a person with lice.

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