The dark side of prime: cellphone selfies to blame for lice epidemic?
posted Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 1:52 PM EST
In today's bit of scaremongering, here's a question for you: are selfies giving you lice? That's the assertion made by a lice treatment clinic called Nitless Noggins, in Scotts Valley, California. They claim that by putting your heads together for a self portrait, it's allowing the lice to jump from one head to another.
This comes from employee Marcy McQuillan, who told SFist "I’ve seen a huge increase of lice in teens this year. 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." She continued, "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."
We're hesitant to say that sticking your heads near each other for a few seconds provides enough of a vector for the creatures to jump from head to head—it's certainly not as long-term a contact as, say, sharing hats. As Dr. Richard J. Pollack told NBC News, "this is a marketing ploy, pure and simple. Wherever these louse salons open a new branch, there always seems to be an epidemic. It’s good for business."
But, on the other hand, if your friend is violently scratching their head? Maybe you shouldn't get too cuddly with them this time.
Image: Male human head louse by Giles San Martin, used under a Creative Commons license.