Skip to main content

Selfie shocker: Photos causing spread of head lice, expert claims

selfie shocker photos causing spread of head lice expert says

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.

[via sfist] [Image: Lighthunter / Shutterstock]

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Man shoots himself in head while posing for gun selfie
man shoots himself in head while posing for gun selfie oscar otero aguilar

It may seem obvious, but if you must take a gun selfie, it's probably best you point the barrel away from your head.

Oscar Otero Aguilar learned that lesson the hard way, accidentally killing himself while posing for a selfie with a .38 pointing toward – that's right – his head.

Read more
Selfie stupidity: Tour de France fans in danger of causing massive pile-up
selfie stupidity at tour de france cycling

Fans of the Tour de France, which got underway on Saturday in England (yes, some stages very occasionally make it onto English soil), are apparently in danger of causing a massive pile-up as they step out onto the road to take a selfie.

While it may seem obvious to most people that turning your back on a bunch of high-speed cyclists coming your way may not be the wisest move in the world, some cycling fans turning out to the watch race appear to disagree.

Read more
Selfie trend pushing demand for plastic surgery, survey claims
the worst type of selfies you can post selfie

Have you ever taken a selfie, looked at it, decided your nose looked massive and promptly booked an appointment with your local plastic surgeon? Probably not, though according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), the selfie trend is causing an increasing number of people to undertake face-related plastic surgery.
Results from a recent study conducted by the AAFPRS found that one in three plastic surgeons have seen an increase in the number of people requesting alterations to their face "due to patients being more self-aware of looks in social media."
The study found that 2013 saw a 10 percent jump in nose-related procedures on the previous year, a 7 percent increase in hair transplants, and a 6 percent rise in eyelid surgery.
"Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone app, which are solely image based, force patients to hold a microscope up to their own image and often look at it with a more self-critical eye than ever before,” claimed Edward Farrior, MD and president of the AAFPRS. “These images are often the first impressions young people put out there to prospective friends, romantic interests and employers and our patients want to put their best face forward."
Bullying was also reported to be a factor in prompting people to undertake plastic surgery, though most surgeons questioned in the study said children and teens tend to undergo procedures "as a result of being bullied (69 percent) rather than to prevent being bullied (31 percent)."
Fifty-eight percent of the plastic surgeons questioned in the study said that in 2013 they saw an increase in cosmetic surgery or injectables in people aged 30 or below.
Women accounted for the majority (81 percent) of face-based surgical procedures last year, with much of the work focusing on "preserving their youthful appearance with a facelift and eye lift as well as having a well-proportioned, attractive nose," while men were more worried about wrinkles and having a full head of hair.
The annual survey involves a select group of the AAFPRS's 2,700 members and aims to discover the latest trends in face-related plastic surgery.
Not just selfies
Last year the same study pointed to video-chat software as the reason for the uptick in people seeking procedures.
"Skype, FaceTime, and other live talk features on digital devices have led to more consultations and procedures," Dr. Malcolm Z. Roth, former President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said at the time. "People are noticing their jowls, necks, and wrinkles. Neurotoxins, fillers, laser procedures as well as neck and face lifts and eyelid tucks are being requested by these ‘social’ individuals."
With the proliferation of camera-equipped smartphones and the rise in popularity of photo-sharing apps like Instagram, selfies have taken off big time in the last year or so, with the AAFPRS consequently highlighting it as an additional factor in prompting people to change their looks.
Do you think the AAFPRS is on to something here? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image: Bevan Goldswain / Shutterstock]

Read more