Having a smartphone can really get in kids’ hair

Head lice take only 10 days to mature.
Head lice take only 10 days to mature.

CHILDREN who use smartphones are twice as likely to get head lice as those who don't, according to a new study.

Experts blame selfie culture for the increase, as groups of children huddle around phone and tablet screens to watch videos or take photos.

The close contact makes it easy for head lice to spread and experts are worried it is leading to an increase in the number of cases being reported in Queensland.

The British study found 62 per cent of children with a tablet or smartphone picked up head lice, compared with just 30 per cent of those who didn't own technology.

Michael Lawless from Lice Clinics Australia said older students were also more at risk than in previous years, because of the use of phones.

"We have teenagers with their heads touching to pose for selfies, much more than we've seen previously, it's making the lice problem a problem a lot more widespread," he said.

"Girls are definitely more at risk than boys because lice can't jump, so they have to be transmitted through head touching.

"Girls are more likely to be hugging each other 'good morning' at the school gate which increases the chances as well."

Queensland Health said the egg-laying insect grows to 3.5mm and only takes 10 days to mature and start laying eggs of its own.

Lice only live on humans and must feed at least every six hours to stay alive.

There's no easy prevention when it comes to head lice, but Mr Lawless said awareness was the key.

He suggested children keep their hair up and avoid sharing hats to stop the spread of lice.

"Parents need to be prepared by regularly checking their child's head for lice as only about 30 per cent of people actually itch their head so sometimes it's not obvious," he said.

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