Summertime is just not summertime without the experience of enjoying a cool, refreshing dip in the pool. For many people, public pools are an only option as upkeep and maintenance for a private pool can be quite expensive. What are the risks of swimming in a public pool and contracting head lice? Many people say the risk for head lice is greater in the warmer summer months? What should parents know and do to prevent the spreading of head lice while swimming?
Swimming CAN spread head lice, but it is HIGHLY unlikely.
Research shows us that head lice can survive underwater for several hours at a time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state the swimming does NOT pose a great risk for catching head lice because head lice go into survival mode underwater. They tightly grasp onto strands of human hair and do not let go. In the event that a louse would get knocked off of a host during swimming, it would float to the top of the water and hope for another head to push up next to it. In this rare case, head lice could be transferred while swimming or bathing.
Why would swimming pose a risk for head lice?
The greatest risk for transferring head lice during swimming is by sharing towels. Head lice can easily be transferred to the interwoven fabric of towels. If these towels are shared by others by laying on them, wiping off their body, or drying their hair the likelihood of transfer is much higher than in the water.
Why doesn’t water kill head lice?
Head lice can hold their breath for several hours. This is why simply shampooing your hair does NOT effectively kill head lice. They also have distinct claws on the end of each of their six legs. These claws are designed to grasp onto hair strands and keep them firmly in place.
Does chlorine from the pool kill head lice?
Despite what you may have heard, chlorine does not kill head lice. This is a myth that has been debunked.
Is head lice more prevalent in the summer months?
The warmer weather does mean more cases of headlice simply because more people are spending time together and transfer is easier. The busiest times for head lice outbreaks are summer camps, spring break, back to school, and school breaks like Christmas time.