My Sister has Lice so she can’t go swimming right?
That was a response from a 7 year old wishful brother during a head lice treatment for his sister.
A Virginia beach Mom asked inquisitively and always in a concerned voice “can the kids still go swimming?” And the resounding answer to that is yes. She responded “oh, the chlorine kills them?” No, chlorine won’t kill head lice and it won’t drown them either – that was the other question from the 7 year old brother (but not about the lice). Oh brothers, you’ve got to love them. Thank goodness they usually grow up and actually like their sisters (as soon as their friends start liking their sister) Ok, back to lice and swimming pools.
We went searching online to find some studies to reference and we came across this Q. “Can you catch lice in a swimming pool?” A. “Not if it’s oxidized” Oh boy! Let’s get this out of the way first. I’m not sure what oxidizing a swimming pool means but it doesn’t have anything to do with head lice or their transmission in a swimming pool. So Mom’s please don’t go buy an oxidizer for your swimming pool if you found that answer online.
Data shows that head lice can survive under water for several hours (some studies say up to 16 hours) but are unlikely to be spread by the water in a swimming pool. Head lice have been seen to hold tightly to human hair and not let go when submerged under water. Chlorine levels found in pool water do not kill head lice.
Swimming with someone who has lice carries no greater risk of transmission than any other activity, nor will the water affect the infestation. When lice are in water they go into a state of suspended animation but remain firmly locked onto the hair – literally hanging on for their lives.
We did find research study information that says ” In the field trial, four naturally infected individuals swam in a chlorinated pool for 30 min. No loss of lice or head to head transfer was observed. These results indicated that although head lice survive immersion, head lice transmission is unlikely to occur via the water of swimming pools” You can read the full article US National Library of Medicine.
So, with so many fun swimming options in Virginia Beach, you don’t need to worry about catching or sharing head lice in the water. If you suspect head lice be sure to call for a head lice check or learn how to do an at home lice head check.
Answers adapted from content on the websites of the National Pediculosis Association (NPA) & Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)
Publisher: Let’s Be P.A.L.S
Contributor: Julie B