The Lice Treatment Center® Co-Founder Discussed “Social Media Lice”

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Some claim that head lice have become “social media lice” and responsible for an increase in head lice infestations in the United States.

Selfies Mean Being Up-Close with Friends!

"It’s true that lice can spread when teens get close for selfies."

On December 1, 2017, head lice expert, Liz Solovay, co-founder of Lice Treatment Center® spoke to local parents about the increase in incidence of head lice infestations among teenagers, especially teen aged girls. Ms Solovay said, “Some experts claim the increase among teen girls is because of selfies. And the New York Daily News reported that some folks are now referring to them as 'social media lice,' blaming increased infestations on the head-to-head contact teens have while taking selfies or even just staring at each other’s phones watching You Tube or their own videos.” Ms Solovay said she was not convinced that selfies and iPhones are really solely responsible for the increase in lice among teens and pre-teens. As she said, “It’s true that lice love being up-close and personal with the human head. And it’s also true that, historically, we assumed that since teenagers didn’t share things like hats as much as little kids. And since lice don’t jump, they don’t spread among teens as frequently. However, at LTC we conduct thousands of summer camp and school head screenings every year. It’s true that the incidence of lice among pre-teens and teens has increased enormously in the past few years. But, my feeling is that it is not just selfies and smart phones that are causing the increased spread of head lice, it’s also because teens interact–also up close and personal–with other kids so much more today than in the past. They attend concerts where close personal contact in crowds is a given. They share sports equipment– especially helmets. They go to sleep overs and camping trips where they may share pillows and blankets. And yes, they do take selfies and lean in to watch each other’s smart phones so they probably have a lot of contact with other people’s heads.”

Ms Solovay told parents to refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online guide to parisites/head lice,, “The CDC guide warns against “Head-to-head contact with a person who already has head lice” because it is the most common way of contracting lice. Pre-school and elementary school children are still the most likely to get lice. An estimated 6 to 12 million children aged 3 to 11 will become infested each year. And although the CDC guide does warn parents about slumber parties and camps, it doesn’t specifically blame selfies and other social media for the increase in head lice among teens.”

For more information on lice prevention strategies and treatment visit or call 1-888-LICE AWAY/1-888-542-3292

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Judith Halleran
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