Next time you take a selfie, maybe you should be a
little more nitpicky about who else is in your photo.
California "lice expert," Marcy McQuillan of Scotts
Valley's Nitless Noggins, told a San Francisco based website Monday
that the selfie phenomenon has contributed to an increase in the
number of cases she's seen of lice in teens. According to the
Oxford Dictionary, a selfie is a type of "photography that one has
taken of oneself," typically with a smartphone or webcam and
uploaded to a social media site.
The typical pose for a group selfie is to get as close as
possible, usually touching heads. But all a head louse needs is a
"They don't jump. They don't fly. They just crawl," said
Carrie Madej, owner of Nit Free Noggins, a lice treatment center
based in Chicago. "So you need that contact there for a few seconds
in order for that bug to cross over."
And a few seconds is all you need to take a
McQuillan said teens are sticking their heads together
every day to take selfies.
"I just think the selfies are bringing [spreading lice] on
a little more with the teenagers," Madej said.
Elizabeth Haloulos, a school nurse at Taft High School on
Chicago's Northwest Side, said she does not know of any "out of the
ordinary" outbreaks of lice in Chicago, but she said a lot of cases
of lice go unreported.
"We don't need to know the exact student," Haloulos said.
"But we need to know who to target with our letters."
This may be because there is a stigma that comes along
with head lice.
"Everybody thinks they're dirty or they don't keep a clean
home because they have head lice," Madej said. "So they're not real
quick to tell their circle of friends that they need to stop and
Madej said that lice are not selective when choosing a
"It doesn't matter," Madej said. "We see it on very short
hair, long hair, thin, thick, dirty, clean."
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