Swimming with Head Lice

little girl with wet hair and swim goggles peering out of swimming pool

Don’t worry. Head lice can not swim. Keep in mind, though, chlorine will not kill lice.

For many families summer is a time for sun, sand and swimming; but for others it can also mean cases of head lice. We often get asked by families if they can “kill two birds with one stone”, by letting their child enjoy swimming in pools while also killing the lice in the chlorine. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that.

While you don’t need to worry about spreading head lice to others in the pool, as lice cannot swim, the chlorine has no effect on the lice themselves or their nits. Head lice are a tough exoskeleton animal and are immune to almost all chemicals including chlorine, and as nothing can penetrate the tough shell of the nits, they too are able to survive a swim. In fact, lice have been known to be able to withstand several hours in water without any problems. However, you do not need to worry about them lingering in the water and attaching themselves to another person in the future.

So, while it is alright for your child to go swimming if she or he has a known case of lice, there are some precautions you should always take. Remember to remind your children that lice are spread through close contact, and while lice cannot swim, they can still be spread to others on dry or wet hair. So, they should stay clear of others in the water. They should also be careful not to share swimming accessories that tend to get hair caught in them such as swimming caps and goggles.

The best offense is always a good defense, so to make sure your child really enjoys summer to the fullest we recommend calling us as soon as you suspect a case of head lice. We have expert technicians ready to rid your family of lice with our safe, chemical-free and effective protocols. Call LiceDoctor day or night at 713-966-6116 .

For more information on headlice and swimming or other sports be sure to check out our Education Center Does Chlorine Kill Lice? and Warm Weather, Baseball Caps, and Head Lice Treatment