More and more Oklahoma teenagers are turning up with lice. The parasites are most often found in children, but anyone can get them and lately it's teens and college students. Pest experts say it has a lot to do with your cell phone.
You can use your phone to text, play games, and of course take a selfie... but local lice removers say you may come away with more than just a cute picture.
"I probably get four or five teenagers a week. College students, I probably get three or four a week," says Monica Lynch, the owner of Lice Masters in the Metro. "It's really, really common in children ages three to 12, but anyone can get head lice," says Lynch. She says she's seen a steady increase of teenagers visiting her office. She says lice can quickly spread through schools and college dorms, but she has another theory about why so many teenagers are getting lice. "They love to take pictures together. No matter what they're doing, they like to touch heads. With the cell phone (up in the air), they touch heads and there you go," says Lynch.
Professional lice removers across the country agree, prompting recent news stories. They say head-to-head contact, like the typical selfie, is the easiest way to transfer lice. But, some pest experts disagree with the selfie theory. They say it would take more prolonged contact, like sharing earbuds or the same bed. Lynch disagrees. "It works very quickly. It only takes 30 seconds for lice to get from one head to another," says Lynch. She says all lice need is a hair to latch on to, and all it takes is one. "If you get a pregnant female lice, then you got yourself a lice problem," says Lynch.
Lynch recommends checking yourself weekly with a proper lice comb. "Not everyone can tell if they have lice. Not all people are allergic to the saliva that lice have," she says. She recommends the Terminator, which can be found at any big box store or beauty store. Lynch sells them for $18 and she says it's the best on the market. "Get a proper lice comb and check once a week. Make it a part of your weekly routine. While you're in the shower, go through your hair with a lice comb while you have your conditioner in," says Lynch.
Also, do not share combs, brushes, or hair accessories. "Lice live 24 to 48 hours off of their host," says Lynch.
If you do contract lice, you can either treat it at home or visit a professional. Lynch says there isn't one single treatment that is 100-percent effective so at Lice Masters, they triple treat each client-- once with a warm air solution, a comb-out solution, and then with an oil based solution. "We're tough on lice, but we're very gentle on our clients," she says.
Lynch also recommends speaking out. "Lice wants you to be quiet. As long as you stay quiet, they can go about your hair," she says. She says she wants to change the stigma that comes with lice. "Lice has nothing to do with being dirty. Anyone can get it," she says. She says the more we speak about it and share with each other, the fewer cases we'll have and the faster they'll be treated.
If you need treatment for lice, you can call Lice Masters at 405-470-1337.