Updated on August 25, 2020
By: Tierna Moser
Can You Get Lice From a Swimming Pool?
Especially during the warm summer months when water sports and vacations are more common, families are often concerned about their family’s risk of contracting head lice from the pool water. We can mildly put your mind at ease. Because lice cannot swim, if you are in the pool you will not catch a case of lice by way of a swimming louse. However, if your child has direct head to head contact with another child while in the water, the or she is at risk of contracting lice from someone else who has lice. Unfortunately, lice do not care if your hair is wet, they can still grab on and climb to the root of the hair for safety.
Does Pool Water Kill Lice?
No, no matter what chemicals you may use to maintain your swimming pool, pool water will not kill lice. Lice are especially hearty creatures that do not die when exposed to chlorine. In fact, head lice are becoming increasingly more resistant to chemicals, and nothing penetrates the shells of their eggs to kill the nymph inside, so you cannot count on even the most chlorinated pool or water park to kill lice when they come into contact with the chemicals. On the contrary, we actually see an increase in head lice cases when the weather is hot and families are at the pool because children are playing together in close contact.
We received a phone call from a perplexed mom in San Bernardino. She had had a birthday party for her 10 year old daughter at her house. It was a swimming party and a couple of weeks afterwards, several of the girls turned up with head lice. The kids had been in the pool most of the time and she wanted to know why the chlorine hadn’t killed the bugs. We explained that lice are extremely tough and they do not die when exposed to chlorine.
Can Lice Live In the Pool?
You may wonder then, if chlorine does not kill lice, and they do not swim, can they live in the pool if they fall off of a person’s head? The answer to this is no. Even though the bugs will not be killed by the chemicals in the pool, lice cannot live in a swimming pool or other body of water. Once they fall off of the head, lice begin to die. They need the warmth and food source that the human head provides to survive, and will die within 24 hours of falling off the head, that is, if they do not drown in the pool first. Lice can hold their breath for 6 hours, so it is likely that they will drown in the pool water before they starve.
Do Head Lice Spread In Swimming Pools?
When a person with head lice enters a swimming pool, the louse will latch onto the strands of hair super tight with the claws on all six of its legs so as to not fall off. They are very strong and resilient so can maintain a firm grip and hang on despite any friction. This is why you cannot remove lice from your hair simply by combing and showering. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that lice will spread in a swimming pool. Rather, again, it is the direct head to head contact of individuals in the swimming pool that will cause the spread of lice, not from lice getting into the pool itself and their making their way to another host.
Can Lice Survive In a Salt Water Pool?
What about salt water pools then? Does salt water kill lice? You’ll be relieved to hear that lice also cannot survive in salt water pools. The same principles apply to salt water pools that apply to swimming pools with chlorine or other chemicals. Salt water will not kill lice, but again, do not allow that to give you a false sense of security. The risk of getting head lice at a pool party is relatively high if one person has a case. If he or she is playing in close proximity to another person, it is likely the lice will spread.
Think You Got a Case of Lice At the Pool? We Can Help!
If you have discovered head lice in your family, or you are not sure if you or someone else got lice from a pool party, call LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537. Your technician is an expert and can provide practical advice for prevention and help you get rid of lice with a time-tested and proven technique with a 99.6% effectiveness. The service comes with a 30 day guarantee. Do not let head lice ruin your summer vacation plans!