Can selfies give you head lice?

What medical experts say about whether selfies can make you more susceptible to head lice.

A study out of England this July aimed to answer the question: do selfies cause lice to spread?

It didn't actually find causation, but the study did find a strong link.

Scientists tested more than 200 kids and found those owning smart phones or tablets were more than twice as likely to have head lice as those without devices. 

As soon as Dr. Ruben Espinoza, a pediatrician with Banner, saw the study, a light bulb went off. 

"What do we do when we take a selfie? We just get all together and our heads bump together and that's when the lice crawl from one head to another," said Espinoza. 

He also said he has been seeing lice in older kids than expected. 

Historically, lice have been common in kids ages 3 to 11 years. That's a time when kids play closely together and lice crawl between kids.

By the time kids become pre-teens, they develop a sense of personal space. They don't play as closely together, and the incidence rates of lice drop. 

However, in recent years that hasn't been the case. 

"Within the last few years I will tell you I have seen more cases in older little girls, like 13, 14 years old," Espinoza said. 

The theory goes, with the popularity of selfies, more people are getting close together to take a picture. As they do that, lice hitch a free ride. 

"We don't want to create a panic, in terms of don't take selfies, because it's a social thing, it's fun. We all want to have fun. Just proceed with caution," said Espinoza. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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