Specialist says selfies to blame for spread of head lice

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Health experts tell Channel 9 they are noticing an increase in head lice cases across Charlotte and a majority of them involve young adults.

Eyewitness News spoke with one physician who thinks picture taking trend could be behind the spread.

Lice is typically spread through shared combs, brushes, hats, bedding and head-to-head contact, which brings up a new theory that selfies are now spreading lice.

The idea is spreading across the Internet and one local woman who treats lice says it's true. Sheila Fassler, a registered nurse, and owner of Pediatric Hair Solutions says selfies are to blame because when people gather around the phone to take a picture lice are traveling from one head to another.

"It's not just a quick snap. They're all fixing their hair and getting everything just right. So they're heads are hanging out together long enough for transmission to occur," said Fassler.

Fassler says of the 10,000 heads she's checked for lice she's treated 4,000, and has recently noticed a growing trend among high school and college-age students.  

"The day before yesterday we treated four students all whom were young adults."  

But not everyone is buying it; "When I first saw it I thought, oh lord this is ridiculous," said Rhonda Wey.  "Yeah, I'd have to see a lot of research," said Peggy Fields.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention an estimated 6 million to 12 million children get lice each year.

There are no statistics for teens or young adults.

Fassler said the theory that selfies spread lice is too new for medical research to prove.

She admits part of the reason why she supports it, is from her own experience with lice and with being the mother of a cheerleader.

"I happened to have several girls in my minivan and I looked up in my rearview mirror and saw all five heads together hanging over a phone. I'm like girls, this is where the problem starts," said Fassler.  

The cost to get rid of lice can range anywhere from $10 for over-the-counter kits to more than $300 for a prescription.  

It's a burden for both parents and children, and can often take weeks, even months to treat.