Selfies: Head lice love them

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Teenagers have no idea that they are probably contribute to the proliferation of head lice.

Named word of the year by the Oxford dictionary, the selfie is a fast-growing great trend – even Obama has got himself in trouble over one with David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Of course, nothing’s new – the first known selfie was taken by American pioneer of photography Robert Cornelius in 1839.

But it is more popular among young people. Need a little image boost – take a self-portrait using a smartphone and post it on social networks. But this seemingly harmless gesture may have unexpected health consequences: head lice.

When you’re head-to-head and all smiles with your friends or loved one, these small parasitic insects have no reason to attempt a leap: you’re doing their work for them as they easily transfer on contact. This is not news to the hair care industry. Marcy McQuillan, who runs the wonderfully named Nitless Noggins lice treatment centres in California said: “I have seen an exponential increase in head lice in adolescents this year. And in most cases they have told me they have taken selfies. So, I think parents and teens should be aware that even though taking selfies is fun, it is not without consequences.”

But Nancy Gordon, CEO of the equally wonderfully-titles Lice Knowing You, has also seen an increase in the number of head lice cases among teenagers, but doesn’t think selfies are necessarily to blame.

She said that the spread can also caused by “togetherness” of teenage girls.

“They work in close proximity,” she said. “They are always sharing clothes and hair products.”

And it appears that their constant hugging is another culprit.

PHOTO: Tazebeth