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Are Selfies Giving Our Teens Head Lice?

Selfies cause rise in lice, expert says
Photograph by Getty Images

Oh, the selfie. Despite being linked to a slew of social side effects—such as making you look ridiculous, annoying everyone on your Facebook newsfeed, etc.—the trend doesn’t seem to be losing much steam. Least of all with our kids. In fact, a quick Instagram search reveals there are upwards of 80 million #selfie pics right now of mostly teens—and you know that number is climbing as we speak.

But according to California lice expert Marcy McQuillan, the selfie craze has been leading to one other not-so-pleasant side effect for teens: a rise in lice.

Teenagers, according to McQuillan, have been spending entirely too much time “putting their heads together” for overly posed group shots. As a result, McQuillan says she’s seen a huge increase in lice over the last year alone. (Yuck.)

“Typically it’s younger children I treat, because they’re at higher risk for head-to-head contact. But now, teens are sticking their heads together every day to take cell phone pics,” McQuillan explains to SFist.

If this association sounds like a bit of a leap to you, you’re not alone. The Daily Mail spoke with Dr. Nick Celano, a resident at the Los Angeles USC Medical Center, and he’s a bit skeptical of McQuillan’s assumptions.

“The way we're taught is that it takes contact for an extended period of time, and 10 seconds is not what I'd consider an extended period of time,” he says. Still, he doesn’t completely shoot down McQuillan’s conclusions altogether.

However, Dr. Richard J. Pollack, who teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health, has his own theories about where the link between selfies and head lice comes from.

“This is a marketing ploy, pure and simple,” Pollack told NBC News. “Wherever these louse salons open a new branch, there always seems to be an epidemic. It’s good for business.”

Which side of the debate are you on?

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