Social media and children has always been a contentious combination.
But a recent study suggests they could be sharing more than themselves online.
According to British researchers, 62 per cent of children with a tablet or smartphone caught head lice, compared to just 30 per cent of those who did not have the devices.
“There’s certainly a connection between a rise in head lice and the growing popularity of technology as children crowd around to watch a screen or take selfies giving head lice a chance to crawl onto another unsuspecting head of hair,” explained Michael Lawless, General Manager of Lice Clinics Australia.
“Contrary to popular belief, head lice can’t jump so selfies and watching YouTube video provides the perfect opportunity to spread the infestation,” said Mr Lawless.
“Head lice is extremely common in Australia and seasonally this is one of the busiest times of year with higher summer temperatures and children going back to school,” he said.
Only 30 per cent of people actually experience itching with head lice, so parents need to check their child’s head regularly.
“Head lice love to hide behind the ears and at the back of the neck but without a human host they can not survive more than 48 hours,” Mr Lawless explained.
“Female lice lay their eggs close to the scalp where they remain firmly stuck to the base of the hair shaft until they hatch a week or so later.”
How to identify head lice
“Often nits are mistaken for dandruff but if you run your finger along your hair a nit will often feel like a little knot on a piece of string,” he said.
Mr Lawless recommends that parents treat the infestation as soon as it’s discovered.
How can you prevent nits?
Mr Lawless said to help reduce the risk of head lice, you should:
- Keep your child’s long hair tied back or up.
- Educate kids that head to head contact like selfies will assist lice to transfer onto the head.
- Use a lice comb and normal conditioner once a week to remove lice at the start of an infestation .
- If you find lice then treat immediately so it doesn’t spread through the house or community.