Selfies cause head lice, US paediatrician warns

More teenagers are engaging in head-to-head contact, making the parasite spread

Selfies have sparked an explosion in the number of head lice cases among teenagers,a group of US paediatricians has warned.

The group said there is a growing trend of “social media lice” where lice spread when teenagers cram their heads together to take a selfie.

Lice cannot jump so they are less common in older children who do not tend to swap hats or headgear.

A Wisconsin paediatrician, Dr Sharon Rink, told local news channel WBAY2 she has seen a surge of teenagers coming to see her for treatment, something which was unheard of five years ago.

Dr Rink said: “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.

“If you have an extremely itchy scalp and you’re a teenager, you might want to get checked out for lice instead of chalking it up to dandruff.”

In its official online guide to preventing the spread of head lice, the Center for Disease Control recommends avoiding head-to-head contact where possible and suggests girls are more likely to get the parasite than boys because they tend to have “more frequent head-to-head contact”.

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