SMARTPHONES are fuelling a dramatic rise in head lice, experts have warned.
Doctors say that when children gather in groups to peer at a tablet or mobile phone screen, the insects jump from one child’s head to the next.
Children owning a smartphone or tablet are more than twice as likely to be infested, a survey found. The problem peaked among children aged between six and nine. Girls in this age group with siblings were the most commonly affected, the researchers found.
The research, presented at the British Association of Dermatologists annual conference in Liverpool, suggests previous estimates of the prevalence of head lice in British children ‘may be conservative’.
The survey found 45 percent of the children had had head lice in the past five years, a longer period than covered by earlier research.
Researcher Dr Tess McPherson, of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘Compared to previous estimates of head lice incidence our figures were much higher, which may not come as a surprise to parents.’
Matthew Gass, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: ‘If there’s an outbreak at home or at school, consider how electronic devices might cause children to congregate, allowing head lice to spread.’
© Daily Mail