How Do You Get Rid of Lice in One Day?

Reviewed on 6/16/2022

A parent treating their child's head lice
It is not usually possible to get rid of lice in one day, as an infestation needs to be treated. However, there are treatments that can help get rid of lice and symptoms caused by lice more quickly.

Lice are parasites that feed on human blood and can be found on people’s bodies. 

There are three types of lice that live on humans on different parts of the body:

  • Pediculus humanus capitis: head louse, lives on the scalp and in the hair
  • Pthirus pubis: pubic louse (“crabs”), lives in pubic hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, facial hair, armpits, and other areas
  • Pediculus humanus corporis: body louse, feeds on the body and can live in clothing (uncommon)
    • Body lice are the only type known to spread disease

It is not usually possible to get rid of lice in one day, as an infestation needs to be treated. However, there are treatments that can help get rid of lice and symptoms caused by lice more quickly. 

Lice infestations must first be treated by improving the hygiene of the infected person. Launder clothing, bedding, and towels used by the infested person with hot water (at least 130°F/54.4°C) and machine dry using the hot cycle. After that, both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription shampoos and medications may be used.

Over-the-counter medications to get rid of lice include:

  • Pyrethrins combined with piperonyl butoxide (A–200, Pronto, R&C, Rid, and Triple X)
  • Permethrin lotion, 1% (Nix)

Prescription medications to get rid of head lice include:

  • Benzyl alcohol lotion, 5% (Ulesfia lotion)
  • Ivermectin lotion, 0.5% (Sklice)
  • Lindane shampoo 1%
  • Malathion lotion, 0.5% (Ovide)
  • Spinosad 0.9% topical suspension (Natroba) 

Vigorous scratching can lead to sores and infections which may need to be treated with antibiotics. Talk to a dermatologist if you suspect lice bites. 

Natural home remedies will not get rid of lice but may help relieve itching caused by lice bites: 

  • Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water
  • Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply to the affected area 
  • Mix one teaspoon baking soda with three teaspoons of water, apply paste to the affected area, and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with water. Repeat as needed. 
  • Soak a cotton ball in witch hazel, apply to the affected area and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Pat lemon juice on the affected area (lemon juice can cause sun sensitivity so avoid the sun)
  • Apply Aloe vera gel to the bites
  • Apply apple cider vinegar to the bites
  • Make a fine paste with oatmeal and water, apply to the affected area, let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, rinse with water. Repeat for a couple of days. Or mix 1/2 cup of colloidal oatmeal into a bathtub filled with warm water and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Apply a cucumber slice to the affected area and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Moist, cool tea bags may ease swelling and itching. Cool a moist tea bag in the refrigerator, and place on the affected area for 15 minutes. 

Some home remedies recommend applying oils, mayonnaise, or vinegar to the head or body overnight to suffocate the lice. These remedies don’t always work and can be messy and time consuming. Talk to your doctor before trying a home remedy to get rid of lice. 

What Are Symptoms of Lice?

Symptoms of lice vary depending on the body part affected but include itching in the area where the lice are. 

Symptoms of head lice include: 

  • Itching on the scalp
  • Feeling something moving or tickling in the scalp and hair
  • Sores on the head from scratching that may become infected
  • Difficulty sleeping: head lice are most active in the dark

Symptoms of body lice include: 

  • Intense itching and rash on the body
  • Thick and discolored skin in areas infested for a long time
  • Sores on the body from scratching 
    • May become infected 

Symptoms of pubic lice include:

  • Itching in the genital area
  • Nits (lice eggs) or crawling lice visible to the naked eye

How Do You Get Lice?

Lice are spread through direct contact with an infested person, or by sharing items from an infested person such as clothing, bedding, pillows, towels, brushes and combs, furniture, and toys. 

How Do You Prevent Lice?

Preventing lice infestation includes:

  • Not sharing beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals of an infested person.
  • Machine washing clothing, bedding, and other items an infested person used during the two days before treatment in hot water (130°F/54.4°C) and machine drying on high heat. 
  • Vacuuming floors and furniture.

Prevention of head lice infestation includes:

  • Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during sports, play, on the playground, at slumber parties, or at camp
  • Do not share clothing, especially headwear 
  • Do not share hair care items such as brushes, combs, hair accessories, or towels

Prevention of body lice infestation includes:

  • Bathe regularly and wear clean clothes laundered in hot water and dried on high heat at least once a week
  • Fumigate or dust with chemical insecticides as needed to control and prevent the spread of body lice for certain diseases 

Prevention of public lice infestation (“crabs”) includes:

  • Avoid sexual contact with an infected person and their sexual partner(s) until everyone has been treated 
  • People with pubic lice should be examined and treated for other possible sexually transmitted diseases (STDs

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Reviewed on 6/16/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/index.html

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/lice-the-basics?search=lice&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~92&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://diyremedies.org/bed-bug-bites/