It’s news that’s likely to have prolific selfie shooters exclaiming, “Ewwww!” before dashing off to the bathroom to give their hair a vigorous wash, and could even mark the beginning of the end of the increasingly popular ‘group selfie’ shot.
Selfies, it seems, are helping to spread head lice, especially among the younger population. At least, that’s the opinion of California lice expert Marcy McQuillan, who says she’s seen “a huge increase” in cases of lice among teens this year.
While the claim may send shock waves of fear through the teen community, we should also consider that the lice themselves must surely be overjoyed that the practice of photographing friends in this way has taken off in the way that it has.
“Typically, it’s younger children I treat, because they’re at higher risk for head-to-head contact,” McQuillan explained. “But now, teens are sticking their heads together every day to take cell phone pics.”
She adds, “Every teen I’ve treated, I ask about selfies, and they admit that they are taking them every day….I think parents need to be aware, and teenagers need to be aware too. Selfies are fun, but the consequences are real.”
Sure, it’s hardly a scientific study, and McQuillan runs a lice-treatment center so it’s in her interest to get nits in the news, but going by what she’s seen, could it really be that selfies are a louse’s best friend?
With the rise of social media apps like Instagram, selfies have exploded in popularity recently, so much so that the word ‘selfie’ was chosen by Oxford Dictionaries as its international Word of the Year for 2013, beating off tough competition from the likes of twerk, showrooming, bitcoin, and binge-watch.
According to McQuillan, though, it now seems that when you snap a selfie, there’s a fair chance it’s not just you and your friends staring back at the camera lens, with some of the scalp-based wingless critters happily moving home while you all mess around making your best faces.
So unless you want a legion of lice making a home in your hair, you might want to keep your distance in future when huddling together for a selfie, or wear a shower cap, or something. Or if you really must knock your heads together, perhaps you should get a buzz cut beforehand.