Is the number of lice increasing? Know the reason.

Reports about a global rise in head lice cases have led some experts to warn about a popular and universal activity among children and teens: taking selfies.

Head lice, itchy parasites that live on the head, are usually spread through direct head-to-head contact, most often in children. And getting close for a group selfie — which often means squeezing two or more heads together to fit into a cellphone’s frame — can give head lice an opportunity to crawl from one head to another, since they can’t jump or fly.

Selfies “are an important source of infection,” Federico Galassi, a researcher at the Buenos Aires-based Center for Insect and Pesticide Research, said in an email.

It’s unclear whether head lice outbreaks are getting worse. Experts said this has not been widely demonstrated in the scientific literature so far, although anecdotal reports suggest it may be true. Some head lice removal clinics in North America and parts of Europe are reporting an increase in demand for their services.

“We have seen growth across the country,” he said. Christa LauerThe national medical director of Lice Clinics of America, a nationwide lice removal company, saw an 18 percent increase in treatments at the clinic and a nearly 20 percent increase in sales of lice removal products during the 12-month period ending in April.

Similar situations are being reported in clinics outside the United States. shonda walkerThe owner of Nitwits, a lice removal clinic in Toronto, said 2022 was particularly quiet, but business started picking up late last summer and she has seen “considerable growth.” And Lice Squad, which has clinics across Canada, has seen a nearly 50 per cent increase in service requests in the past year, said Don MucciFounder and Chief Executive Officer of the company.

“We are seeing the same thing in the UK,” D WrightThe owner of Hairforce, who has six clinics in the United Kingdom and is in the process of opening a seventh, said in an email about the increase in demand. “Our clients are looking war-weary.”

Clinic Owner He said many clients seek professional help after unsuccessful attempts at at-home treatment.

Jennifer Rosa, who owns two Lice Lifters clinics in Plymouth Meeting and Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, said many caregivers who bring their children in have already tried prescription treatments, over-the-counter products or home remedies.

“They’re not working, so they come to us for help,” he said.

Some experts say lice numbers may return to pre-pandemic levels in many countries. Those numbers fell sharply in the early days of the pandemic, when most children weren’t allowed to go to school or day care or participate in extracurricular activities. United Kingdom, Argentina, poland In the U.S. and other locations, epidemics have reported a decrease in lice infestations among school children.

“We know kids are back in classrooms, playing sports, playing games, doing all the activities they used to do before.” Albert YanPediatrician and dermatologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Clinical report on head lice “It’s not surprising that we’re returning to what I suspect was a situation where head lice infestations are higher than ever before,” Dr. Ted King of the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an email.

Ian BurgessDr. K.P. Sharma, director of the Medical Entomology Center in Cambridge, said it could be thought of as buoyancy, “but it’s more like waves in water, undulating up and down.”

However, at least one expert is skeptical, saying that since most reports of lice infestations come from commercial lice removal clinics, these anecdotal reports may reflect marketing efforts.

Richard PollackA public health entomologist at Harvard University, Dr. Over-diagnosis of lice infestations studiedreported that in their research, the vast majority of children who were presumed to have lice in their hair did not have lice. They said many children had other types of insects in their hair — aphids, ants, beetles — from playing outside, or other culprits, including dandruff, hair spray residue and even cookie crumbs.

Or, other experts said, it may be that the number of visits to clinics is increasing because lice in some areas have developed resistance to over-the-counter lice removal products used at home.

In the United States, unit sales of lice treatments at brick-and-mortar stores have declined in recent years, according to data from research firm NIQ. In the 52-week period ending May 18, unit sales were down 1.5 percent compared to the previous year. Compared to the same period four years earlier, unit sales were down 33 percent.

How do you get rid of lice?

Head lice, which are generally considered merely a nuisance, are treated with prescription and over-the-counter topical medications, home remedies, or by frequently combing the lice-infested hair, however The experts said Combing alone is not enough to eliminate lice. Some people use hair conditioners with olive oil, mayonnaise or baking soda to kill or deter live crawling lice, then comb repeatedly with a fine-toothed comb to remove live lice and eggs stuck to the hair as well as empty egg shells. However, many home remedies are time-consuming, messy and may not kill all lice and their eggs, some experts said.

In A 2004 studyResearchers tested six home remedies on head lice – vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, olive oil, mayonnaise, melted butter and petroleum jelly – and found that the only product that caused significant lice mortality was petroleum jelly. This treatment was difficult to remove from the hair, and none of the treatments prevented lice from laying eggs.

Some essential oils, most commonly used against lice in South America, may work but their effectiveness varies. Research Shows Eucalyptus, pennyroyal, marjoram, and rosemary may be useful for treating head lice. And one discovery In Israel, a citronella mixture was reported to be effective as a repellent against head lice. But until more data is available on the safety of essential oils for treating head lice, the American Academy of Pediatrics Said Essential oils should not be used on babies, children, or teens.

“Parents should avoid using topical treatments with unproven efficacy on patients with head lice,” Matthew Falagas, MD, director of the 1st Department of Internal Medicine at Hygeia Hospital in Athens and adjunct associate professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, said in an email.

Most prescription and over-the-counter lice removal products contain a topical agent such as shampoo that is intended to kill lice and their eggs, sometimes called nits.

One challenge with using over-the-counter medications at home is that many people don’t understand the life cycle of lice. Sherry TorkosA pharmacist in Ontario. Often, these chemicals must be applied more than once, including reapplication Seven to nine days After the first treatment, the surviving and the eggs that hatch later are destroyed.

“If you don’t kill the lice and their eggs, the cycle continues,” Torkos said.

In addition, research Shows Lice have developed resistance to many popular over-the-counter lice products, including those that contain permethrin and pyrethrins, which are insecticides. A prescription anti-parasitic agent called Natroba has replaced permethrin as a treatment in the United States, it is said. John ClarkeA pesticide toxicologist who studies lice at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Alternatively, there are products that contain dimethicone, a pesticide-free silicone-based polymer that suffocates lice and kills them at all life stages, experts said.

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration medical equipmentThe device, used in U.S. lice clinics, uses hot air to kill lice and their eggs in one shot. Because lice don’t have a heavy exoskeleton and aren’t well protected from water loss, blowing hot air dehydrates them and kills them, said Clark, whose lab helped test the product.

Experts urge caregivers not to use a hair dryer to achieve similar results, as this could burn the scalp or spread the lice to others.

How do you prevent head lice?

Lice are a common childhood problem and have little to do with personal hygiene. There is no sure way to prevent them, but caregivers should regularly check their children’s heads for lice, especially when they are scratching, he said kate kingPresident of the National Association of School Nurses.

Although sharing brushes, combs and clothing such as hats is not a common way to spread lice, King recommends not doing it.

Additionally, caregivers should encourage children to avoid head-to-head contact, especially with a person who has head lice.

Children with long hair can reduce their risk by tying their hair back or braiding it during activities that require close contact with other children, so that their hair does not get mixed with each other.

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Disclaimer : The content in this article is for educational and informational purposes only.

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