Lice Expert Says Selfies are Causing a Big Increase in Lice Among Teens


“Selfies are fun,” California lice expert Marcy McQuillan recently told the SFist, “but the consequences are real.” What consequences, you ask? Well, as you might have already guessed given McQuillan’s occupation, the consequences she is referring to are head lice. Namely, a lot more head lice among teenagers.

Alright, first things first. Let’s cover the age-old statistical phrase ‘correlation does not imply causation.’ Explained in an extreme way, this principle means that just because the number of jet ski owners and the number of hipsters have increased at approximately the same rate (no idea if this is true folks) it doesn’t mean the two are in any way related.

This same argument could be used to argue against Miss McQuillan, who says she has seen a huge increase in the number of teens who come into her lice clinic for treatment, and attributes that increase to selfies.

Of course, that’s not to say her points don’t make sense. Speaking to SFist, she says that, for the first time ever, she’s seeing more high school and college kids than middle schoolers. “Typically it’s younger children I treat, because they’re at higher risk for head-to-head contact.” she explains. “But now, teens are sticking their heads together every day to take cell phone pics.”

She asks every teen she treats if they take selfies and, no surprises here, the vast majority say they take them every day. Does that mean selfies lead to lice? I don’t know, does riding a jet ski make you more likely to grow ironic facial hair? We’ll let you tackle these life-altering questions in the comments.

(via Gizmodo)

Image credits: Hipster Group Selfie by Tony Eccles

  • Mike


  • Mr Hogwallop

    Petapixel = The Onion?

  • Zos Xavius

    I think mythbusters may actually be more scientific than this article and that’s saying something.

  • bri


  • Glen Berry

    I repeat my question from a previous story: What the hell is “ironic facial hair”?!

    I’ll also add a followup question: Why are you so obsessed with other people’s hair, ironic, lice-riddled, or otherwise? :)

    I come here for photography stories, not for barbershop gossip. ;)

  • Nuno Cruz

    So if am not a teen no lice problem with selfies?

  • Steph

    This site has really gone downhill over the past few months.

  • LBN-3805

    Why the hell are you a lice expert tho?

  • R O

    Hipster facial hair jumped from ironic to genuinely sincere circa 2010.

  • Nattawot Juttiwattananon

    You don’t say… :-))

  • Nate Parker

    you wanna fight?!!?*$%#

  • Chris Pickrell

    Correlation doesn’t lead to causation, but it does lead to experimentation and statistical testing.

    Correlation doesn’t lead to causation. That doesn’t mean a connection isn’t possible.

  • Facepalm

    There must be some correlation between self-facing cameras on devices and selfies. I’ll have to wait for a future story to find out …

  • Charles Augustus Brennan

    Who goes to a clinic for nits? You buy the shampoo, rub it it, leave it, comb it out.

  • Coop

    Since when were lice like ever a problem? INSPIRE me PetaPixel, this is stupid

  • Alan Dove

    Seems like nit-picking to me.

  • Sahaja

    No problem if you’ve gone bald

  • Hannah Paige Woodard

    Part of the reason the general public doesn’t understand that correlation does not imply causation is that people keep reporting pseudo-scientific, untested stuff like this (even if they do put a disclaimer in the body). No study, no story. Thumbs down, PetaPixel.

  • silmasan

    And a lousy one at that!

  • araczynski

    correlation may not imply causation, but neither does it deny common sense. if some kid has lice and headbumps another for a selfie, changes are good the lice will migrate or get ‘pulled’ in when the hair intermingles.

  • Fed Up with weirdos like you

    this guy is a nut case. what in fact has really happening is that social media has created a generation of kids who stay at home…yadda yadda…so if a few of them are out there actually talking to each other in the ‘real world’ and a few lice get transmitted….welllllll…SOO WHAT? It’s still much less than what it ‘should be’ and i think that this article can only serve the cause of teens further alienating each other…please withdraw this article

  • Lostar

    I can definitely see the proof in this, I personally got head lice through taking a selfie with a friend that works with kids. Not fun. Hopefully teens and adults are a little smarter at recognising the symptoms than kids.