Head Lice Cases Increasing Among Teens

Head lice occurs among toddlers and elementary school kids every year. Estimates of up to 12 million kids each year get these awful parasites. Typically, it’s been limited to those under the age of ten. Sure, older siblings sometimes get head lice when little brothers and sisters infest the entire household. But outbreaks in high schools are rare compared to elementary schools.

Until recently, teenagers have been pretty immune from these annoying pests but there is a surge in cases for older kids. Serious surge too – like four times as many as normal. In fact, adolescents are the fastest growing segment of head lice cases. So what is going on?

Head lice are often spread by little kids via head to head contact. Think about typical little kid behavior – they loll around on the floor during nap time, cuddle up to each other in bean bags during reading time and they share secrets by whispering in each other’s ears. These are prime opportunities for little bugs to march from head to head.

As kids get a little bit older, the cooties arrive and touching each other becomes extra yucky. The common transportation between victims then becomes via back packs and jackets as they are crammed on tight little pegs in the classroom. If Suzie has an infestation and her jacket is smashed up against Jacob’s, well chances are that Jacob will get them even though he and Suzie stay on opposite sides of the playground.

So what is with these older teens getting head lice? Here is a hint – the infestations are starting at the ages kids get their own cell phones. So what is the correlation? Ready for this?


Yes, ‘selfies’ – those common self-photos of teens where they scrunch up next to their friends and snap a photo from their own camera. Those ever-present images of teens with the crazy pursed lips and the ‘v’ sign in various angles. The ones that eventually become the ‘what was I thinking’ images that end up deleted.

So put your heads together to share something… head lice. They are easily spread when heads touch and since teens love taking photos, ‘selfies’ are now the source of an explosion in head lice cases.

So if you want to avoid itchy, annoying, humiliating parasites normally reserved for little kids too young to know any better, then stop the ‘selfies’. That is just one more reason not to take those silly photos…