Hopping in the pool is the perfect way to cool down in the summer, but can it also help kill ticks? Do ticks die in chlorine swimming pools?
A tick will not die in a chlorine swimming pool. Although ticks can’t swim, they can survive underwater for a very long time (2-3 days). However, there are a few good ways swimming can help reduce the risk of ticks.
Swimming in a pool might not kill ticks, but there are few compelling reasons to take a swim during tick season. In the rest of this post I’ll explain why swimming might actually help reduce your risk of catching tick borne illness.
Can Ticks Survive a Swimming Pool?
Unfortunately a tick will most like survive a swimming pool. Once a tick is latched onto your skin it can survive underwater for 2-3 days. So unless you’re cool with catching hypothermia you probably can’t kill a tick in a pool.
It doesn’t matter how you treat the pool (chlorine, salt, bromine) there won’t be enough chemicals in a pool to kill a tick. You probably wouldn’t want to swim in a pool that’s caustic enough to kill insects.
A quick dip in the pool might not kill ticks, but that doesn’t mean it won’t help.
- Easier to Spot Ticks: Stripping down into your bathing suit will make it much easier to spot a tick. Ticks usually burrow into the first open skin they can find. Ask a friend to check along your hairline/neckline and wherever clothing ends.
- May Wash Off Ticks: Scientific studies prove that water can wash off ticks as long as they haven’t started to burrow. They didn’t specifically study pools, but if a tick can be washed off in the shower it can probably be washed off in a pool. \
Avoiding ticks will always be your best option. If you plan on hiking during tick season take a minute to spray yourself with bug spray containing DEET (my favorite). Wearing long sleeves, jeans, boots and tall socks will also help reduce the risk of being bitten.
There will be brief instructions on how to remove a tick at the bottom of this post.
Can Ticks Swim?
Even though ticks can survive for days underwater they can’t swim. They sink to the bottom and wander around until they find their way out or die. The video above shows a tick walking in the bottom of a coffee mug.
Unlike other species of spider, ticks can’t swim. Ticks have short tiny legs compared to their fat body. They aren’t long enough to distribute their body weight across the surface of the water.
Other species of spider like the water strider can walk on water by taking advantage of surface tension. They use the high surface tension of water and their long waterproof legs to distribute their weight across a wider surface area. It’s the same reason why humans can float on their back in a swimming pool.
Does Chlorine Kill Ticks?
Chlorine is a weak acid so it can technically kill a tick, but you would never get that high of a chlorine level in a swimming pool. You would have worse things to worry about like your burned off skin.
It doesn’t matter how you treat your pool (chlorine, bromine, salt, etc) nothing will kill a tick. The only way to kill a tick in water is to jack up the heat. So that obviously leads us to another question.
Will a Tick Die in a Hot Tub?
You need to reach water temperatures over 130 degrees to kill ticks. My hot tube will only go to 104 degrees so that won’t kill a tick. Even the hottest shower won’t get hot enough.
Most plumbing codes regulate hot water heaters at 120 degrees because that’s when burn start to occur. I couldn’t imagine how painful it would be to dip into a 130 degree hot tub.
The Safe Way To Remove a Tick
Tick bites aren’t painful and ticks will fall off on their own, but they do carry disease (Lyme Disease is most common). Finding a tick early is crucial to preventing tickborne illness.
It releases disease late in the feeding cycle so finding it in the first couple of hours significantly reduces the risk of catching anything. All you need is a pair of tweezers (pocket knife works in a pinch) to remove a tick.
- Use a fine-tipped pair of tweezers to firmly grasp that body of a tick. The key is grabbing it close to the skin’s surface while trying not to squish or jerk.
- Pull straight up with steady even pressure. It shouldn’t take much effort to pull the tick out. Twisting and jerking will can cause parts of the ticks mouth to break off under your skin. This isn’t an issue from a disease standpoint, but it does increase your chance of infection.
- Thoroughly clean the bite area with soap/water after removing the tick. Follow that up with rubbing alcohol and antibiotic ointment.
- Don’t try to crush the tick with your fingers. You can kill it by flushing it down the toilet or soaking it in rubbing alcohol.
If those directions don’t make sense you might want to quickly watch the following video. Removing a tick really isn’t all that difficult.