Selfies spread head lice among children, says pharmacist
The 'selfie' culture is breeding an unexpected social problem in schools - the spread of head lice, according to a leading pharmacist.
As children return to school this week, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is urging parents to screen their children for lice every week as the resumption of class and close contact between students typically leads to a surge in infestation.
While this is a perennial problem in which an estimated one in 10 children between the ages of four and 16 will contract head lice at some point, the 'selfie' phenomenon appears to be making matters worse, according to pharmacist Tómas Conefrey.
"With the whole selfie culture, it's causing them to spread," he told the Irish Independent.
Some parents of school-aged children have already called into his CarePlus pharmacy on Dublin's Pearse Street and are blaming selfies - which require subjects to squeeze tightly together for a photograph - for spreading the unwanted pests.
"The penny dropped in my brain when I heard this," he said.
Schools typically see a surge in lice infestation when they resume classes after the summer and Christmas holidays. But with the proliferation of mobile phones among school children, it's another reason for parents to be vigilant and check their children for lice, he added.
IPU executive Caitriona O'Riordan said: "There is no foolproof way of preventing head lice but the earlier their presence on the head is detected, the easier it is to get rid of the lice."