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Do selfies really spread head lice among teenagers?

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch is asking a question you may have thought you would never have to ponder: Can selfies really spread head lice?

The theory is that people are putting their heads together, literally, to make that “friends” selfie, and the lice are leaping from one head to the next.

The paper reports: Head-lice treatment centers across the country, including one in central Ohio, say selfies are contributing to the spread of the tiny parasites among teens and college students. Local health organizations say that could be true, but they haven’t seen any evidence to validate those claims.

“It’s direct head-to-head contact,” said Kathy Gibson, who operates the Worthington branch of Pediatric Hair Solutions, which specializes in head-lice removal. “Everyone is getting tight for a picture and holding their cameras out to do selfies. When we see the head-to-head and hair-to-hair contact, that’s how kids can pass it along.

The New York Daily News says: This idea grabbed headlines when Marcy McQuillan, who runs two Nitless Noggins lice treatment centers in California, told SFist about a spike in head lice among high schoolers.

“Every teen I’ve treated, I ask about selfies, and they admit that they are taking them every day,” she said.

Some experts who spoke to the Daily News were skeptical, but said it was possible that shooting a side-by-side selfie could spread head lice.

“In all likelihood it is not the cause of an epidemic, but it is not impossible that it can happen,” Lice Treatment Center’s co-founder Liz Solovay said.

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