Can Swimming Pools Spread Head Lice?

little-girl-swimmingOne thought that may not have ever gone through your mind is, “Can going swimming in swimming pools spread head lice?’ Besides getting over the “ewww” factor, it is a legitimate question and concern with some parents. Now lice are nasty little buggers that cling to hair shafts and can survive both immersion and chlorine in swimming pools. So below is some information that will answer the question raised:

  • The good news is that lice cannot swim in water and can’t be spread by them swimming into your hair. However; if someone does have head lice and their wet hair comes in contact with another person’s hair, the lice can crawl from one head to the other.
  • Also if head lice do drop off a person’s head, the lice can stay alive for up to 16 hours underwater so that means there is some risk if you swim into one. Also the chlorine levels in a swimming pool won’t kill them either. But usually when a head louse goes under water, it holds onto the hair shaft of its host with its claws. It can’t be washed away in the water and it doesn’t drown. It goes into a state of suspended animation and remains hanging onto the hair of its host.
  • In all actually, getting head lice from a swimming pool is a remote possibility. However, the sharing of towels, brushes or combs after coming out of the pool raises a different and greater possibility for getting head lice.

If someone does get into your pool with head lice and you find out about it after the fact, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of infection:

  • Pool filter: Clean the pool filter like you usually do. This is where the lice will eventually end up if any survive.
  • Collect all towels and clothing that may have been in contact with the infected person. Wash everything on hot and then dry in the dryer.
  • Gather all pool tools, deflate them, put them in plastic bags and seal the bags. Let them remain in the bags for a few days before use.
  • Take all the goggles, swim caps and anything that came in contact with the infected person’s head and soak them in a disinfecting cleaner for a few hours.
  • Tell your other pool guest about the incident, stress that infection is unlikely; but ask them to do a thorough inspection of themselves anyway.

Head lice isn’t the end of the world if handled properly.

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