General Health

Prepare to Itch: Smartphones Linked To Dramatic Rise In Head Lice Cases

There are few things in life as gut churning for parents as the words ‘head lice outbreak.’

Just thinking about the shifty little buggers sneaking onto scalps and merrily colonising them with a couple of hundred of their best pals is enough to give you a case of the itches.

It makes sense that parents spend a hell of a lot of time on ‘lice avoidance patrol’. Relentlessly monitoring school newsletters and day care bulletins for news of an outbreak. Picking through scalps to ensure no tell-tale moving black dots can be found.

It’s common knowledge that nits are spread through contact with an infected head. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy for an outbreak to sweep through a kindy classroom like wildfire. Now, it seems lice have breached the final frontier. They are actually using our beloved smart phones and tablets against us.

Nits and technology

A paper presented by the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference revealed that children who own or regularly use a smart phone or tablet are more likely to experience a visit from the lice fairy.

The findings were based on data gathered from 202 children. While 45% of the families surveyed had experienced head lice in the last 5 years (much higher than previously thought), a significantly higher percentage of smartphone and tablet users were found to have been inundated, 62.5% to be exact, compared to 29.5% of kids who did not own or use a smartphone or tablet.

Very Itchy Selfies 

In further findings, the universally adored phenomenon of ‘snapping a selfie’ was also found to impact the chances of contracting lice, with 55% per cent of those performing selfies experiencing head lice.

It makes sense when you think about it. Siblings and friendship groups often gather around a device to watch it together or share whatever they’ve found. All those scalps mushed together in close proximity, it’s pretty much fantasy land for nits.

The Solution? 

Short of insisting your kid wraps their head in glad wrap before they use their favourite device, or insisting on a 5-point lice inspection prior to other kids being allowed access to your house, there’s not a huge amount you can do. Stay vigilant, invest in tea tree oil and leave hair as dirty as possible seems to be the best way. And maybe consider the glad wrap, just for special occasions.

Avatar of Naomi Foxall

Naomi is 3/4 latte drinking, peanut butter obsessed former magazine girl who now does stuff with words for a living while juggling 2.5 kids, 2 cats, 1 rabbit, husband and an unhealthy obsession with slow cooking.

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