There’s been some confusion about whether head lice can survive underwater. While most sources indicate that lice can survive in water for 8 hours or less, one study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests that lice can survive for up to 14 hours. One important factor to keep in mind is that chlorine does not kill head lice, so if you are going to swim, avoid swimming in chlorinated water for at least two days after your treatment.
While it is true that head lice are not able to swim or fly, they do hold on to human hair tightly. Therefore, the only way for them to spread from head to head is through direct head-to-head contact. For this reason, it’s important to swim in a pool at a safe distance from others. However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid swimming around other people.
The survival rate of head lice was higher in water than it was in the non-immersion group. The difference was significant both at six and twenty-four hours. The reason for this difference was that water-immersed lice didn’t close their spiracles and didn’t penetrate the respiratory system. Moreover, colored dimeticone/cyclomethicone, which was used to treat lice, did penetrate the spiracles and spread throughout the respiratory system in just thirty minutes.
Another way to keep lice out of your child’s hair is to make sure they don’t share towels with other children. Towels are a common place for lice to spread because they are woven together. You should discuss this with your child and make sure that he or she has their own towel. Another way to protect your child’s head is to make sure that they wear a swimming cap when they are out in public.