Can Kids Catch Head Lice From Swimming Pools?

Dropping your kids off at the local public pool seems like a totally harmless thing to do during those hot summer months. Public pools usually mean crowds, and crowds can mean head lice. So, what are the chances of your child catching a wave and head lice in the same day? Every parent needs to be informed so they can rest easy by the poolside this summer.

Here are the facts you need to know about head lice and swimming:

 

#1 Head Lice Can Not Swim-

Well, not really. When head lice are put underwater they tightly grasp onto the strands of human hair and hold on for dear life until they are brought up out of the water. They are equipped with a strong claw on the end of each of their six legs. For this reason, they are not often knocked off of the host head from water activities.

 

#2 Water Does Not Kill  Head Lice-

Some people believe that swimming, washing hair or bathing in the water will kill head lice. This is not true.  Head lice have been shown to hold their breath for over four hours. Because of this, shampooing or any type of water activity alone does NOT kill head lice.

 

#3 If Someone Else In the Pool Has Head Lice Will My Kid Get It?-

The likelihood of a louse being transferred through water is highly unlikely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a louse underwater would have to be knocked off of a host head and float to the top of the water. There it would wait for another host to pop up onto it where it could grasp the hair and catch a ride. This may have happened occasionally, but is not a likely scenario. Direct head to head contact is the main cause for head lice being transferred. 

 

#4 Sharing Towels is the Most Common Way Head Lice is Transferred While Swimming-

When children are together throwing clothing in a pile next to the lawn chairs, grabbing random towels, and using others towels to quickly dry off head lice is much more likely to be transferred than through the water. Towels have interwoven fabric that is easily grasped by head lice and their claws. This makes them an ideal place for hitching a ride to a new host head.

 

#5 – What Should I Do To Protect My Kid Against Head Lice At the Pool?-

Talk to your kids about NOT sharing towels. Make sure everyone has their own towel, clearly marked or different defining colors to keep track of them. If you are really concerned, wearing a swimming cap is also a viable option to prevent head lice.

 

#6 – Chlorine in the Pool Kills Lice, Right?

No, the chlorine has been shown to NOT kill head lice, even after extended periods of time.

 

#7 – When Are Head Lice Outbreaks Most Common?

Head lice are most commonly passed through direct head to head contact. Because the summer months bring children together through playing, sports, vacations, it is a high time for head lice. Not because of the weather, but because of the fact, children are spending more time together. Other times of the year we see spikes in head lice outbreaks are summer camps, spring break, back to school, and extended vacations from school like Christmas holidays.

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