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Head lice is on the rise amongst not only school-age children but also adults. What is responsible for this persistent pest’s rise to the crowns of our very heads? The selfie.
We all remember the routine head lice checks in elementary school. Everyone lined up in the school nurse’s office and hoped for the best. When all was said and done, one or two children were singled out to be sent home. Unlucky parents were phoned, and these kids were subject to head dousing with strong chemical treatments before being permitted to return to classes.
These days, head lice aren’t simply the plight of the young (and their unfortunate parents). Lice also do not discriminate by social strata. Many adults who never come into contact with children are feeling mysterious itchfests atop their noggins. These adults all have one thing in common — they’ve recently taken joint selfies with friends and family members. Yes, that’s right. Bona fide journalists are calling out the selfie for good reason.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s pretty difficult to acquire head lice. These little critters cannot fly or jump. You either have to share infested hair grooming tools, hats, or pillows with an infected person (and lice can’t survive “off the head” for more than 24 horus). Or you have to touch heads with an infected person, which permits the lice to crawl from noggin to noggin. Teenagers (and some adults) have developed the almost-daily habit of taking selfies with others, so it’s no wonder the spread of lice is on the rise. All you have to do to avoid the “lice selfie” is to not touch heads, and keep your hair pushed back during selfies. (Or … don’t take joint selfies at all.)
While we’re here: A new recommendation in the journal of Pediatrics suggests that young children should no longer be sent home from school for having head lice, despite the handy presence of lice-removal salons in many cities. Why?
(1) Lice are “only a nuisance and not a significant health hazard.” They “create unfounded anxiety among students, parents and school personnel,” according to Dr. Ron Marina, of Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.
(2) Some officials believe that sending children home after random lice searches is discriminatory, unless checks happen every day (which is impractical and time consuming).
(3) Sending a lice-ridden child home is pointless because they’ve usually had lice for a few weeks before developing sensitivity to the bugs and demonstrating tell-tale itchiness symptoms.
(4) Officials believe the presence of head lice should be weighed against the potential disruption in children’s education.
(5) Mandatory removal from the classroom hasn’t stopped the spread of lice, which spread most often at slumber parties or sleepaway camps.
(6) Head lice have developed some immunities to many over-the-counter medications. Manual nit removal must be used in order for full treatment to be effective. If lice persist for over 20 days (with three full applications of medication), a physician can write a prescription for pharmacy-grade meds.