With the gradual reopening of many local public pools from COVID-19, it’s likely that your kids have been asking you to go the pool during these hot summer months. Public pools usually mean crowds, and it’s likely that crowds will be well-managed by lifeguards and other staff under strict regulatory edicts.
While COVID is something to worry about, another thing you may not be thinking as much about when you drop your kids off at the pool is head lice. Head lice are never ideal to catch, especially during a pandemic. So, what are the chances of your child catching a wave and head lice on the same day? Keep reading for the facts you need to know about head lice and swimming, so that you can rest easy by the poolside this summer.
Swimming Pool Lice Facts:
#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’re equipped with a strong claw on the end of each of their six legs, so 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 untrue. Head lice can hold their breath for over four hours, so shampooing, or any type of water activity alone does NOT kill head lice.
#3 Will My Kid Get Head Lice If Someone Else In the Pool Has 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 scenario may happen occasionally, but is unlikely. 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
Grabbing random towels, and using others towels to quickly dry off head lice is much more likely to be the source of transferring head lice than swimming in the water, so be sure to monitor when children are throwing their clothing in a pile next to the lawn chairs. Towels have interwoven fabric that is easily grasped by head lice and their claws, makes them an ideal place for a louse to hitch a ride to a new host head.
#5 – What Should I Do To Protect My Kid Against Head Lice At the Pool?-
NOT sharing towels is essential. Luckily, your kids are probably already in the habit of avoiding doing this due to the conditions of the pandemic. Make sure everyone has their own towel, clearly marked with 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 does 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. Typically, the summer months bring children together through playing, sports, vacations, and the like–even during social conditioning, it is a high time for head lice. Not because of the weather, but because of the fact that children are spending more time together. Other times of the year we see spikes in head lice outbreaks are summer camp weeks, spring break, back to school, and extended school vacations, like Thanksgiving and winter break.