Head lice alert with selfie craze
Expert warns that group pics may lead to treatment-resistant nits.

Teens love having fun and, even more so, love to memorialise their good times on social media with group selfies. According to Daily Mail, however, this passion may be contributing to the creation of a strain of treatment-resistant head lice.

US physician Sharon Rink has warned that the phenomenon she calls “social media lice” is showing its head among older children, coinciding with the popularity in group selfies where kids’ heads rub together in order to fit into the photo.

She claims that since lice can’t jump, the only way for this strain of lice which shows resistance to treatment being spread is through heads touching.

Another expert disagrees, stating that the upsurge in lice infestation is simply due to schools being less militant in dealing with outbreaks.

Scientists investigating lice found that in 104 out of 109 lice populations the lice showed genetic mutations including a resistance to a popular insecticide used to treat them.

Here are some comments from Parent24’s Sumanda Maritz:
Head lice facts

•    Head lice are not a dirty-hair problem, it’s an all-kinds-of-hair problem.
•    They jump right? Wrong, they crawl.  They spread mostly by head-to-head contact, sharing clothing, bed linens, combs, brushes, and hats. Oh, and they can’t fly either.
•    Head lice only survive on human heads, so you can’t get it from your pets.
•    They’ve got six legs with claws that hold on to the hair.
•    The Big Mamma Louse is about the size of a sesame seed, and a clear colour except after they’ve fed on human blood, then they’re a reddish-brown. Or in the case of the one I found, a combination of the two.
•    They live for about 30 days and Big Mamma Louse can lay up to 100 eggs (called nits) in that time.
•    The nits are really small oval shaped eggs glued to the side of the hair shaft at an angle. They can be dark brown to light yellow before they hatch. They hatch 7 to 10 days after being laid. The females start laying eggs 7 to 10 days after hatching.


There are a lot of different treatments available for head lice. The most common are the head lice shampoos that contain a pesticide.  These have strict instructions that you should adhere to.  Now it might just be me, but I feel strangely uncomfortable using a pesticide on my child’s head.

Various alternative shampoos and treatments have now reached the market, claiming natural remedies instead of the pesticide approach.  These are also very expensive and each one claims it’s the only one that can guarantee effective treatment.

These shampoos share one common fact. They advise you that the only way their product will be effective is with the combined use of a special fine toothed comb.

With a bit more research I found this interesting fact: If your child is under the age of 2, manual removal is advised. Use a fine toothed comb on wet conditioned hair every 3 to 4 days for two weeks after the last louse was seen. The water temporarily immobilises the louse and the conditioner makes the combing easier.

After all my research, this mommy is off to the chemist to buy a fine toothed comb.

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Sales Representative in Ulundi

Roots Sales and Merchandising

Junior sales trainer

Port Elizabeth
Roots Sales & Merchandising
R4 000.00 - R7 000.00 Per Month


Eastern Cape
Roots Sales & Merchandising
R1 000.00 - R1 500.00 Per Month

Property - Find a new home