Summer is of course, the best time to go out in nature, picnic or take a stroll in the forest, by the river or in the garden. However, we may experience nagging insect bites especially if we’re walking barefoot or staying for longer period of times outdoor. Insects are attracted by the body odor or by the lively colors of our clothes. Insect bites can be extremely unpleasant, especially if they trigger painful skin reactions or persistent itching.
This is why we believe that this is the best time of the year to share with you the best home remedies for insect bites that you can try at home. But first, let’s begin with the most prevalent insect bites symptoms and how to prevent insect bites while enjoying the nature and outdoors.
Insect Bites Symptoms
Most often, the only treatment for insect bites is applied locally and it can be done at home, without going to the hospital. But there are patients who manifest severe reactions to insect bites and they require medical care.
Insect and spider bits usually manifest locally with pruritus (itch) and even erythema (rash) or edema that can be painful or not. These are the normal symptoms for insect bites and they can last for a few hours up to a few days. Insect bites can cause an immediate skin reaction, usually red in color, itchy and painful. Usually home remedies for insect bites are enough, but if severe symptoms occur like anaphylaxis, you need to see a doctor.
Anaphylaxis is a rare allergic reaction to insect bites and in this situation emergency care is necessary. The most common insect bites symptoms are local and they manifest with:
- Pain (that can last up to a few days)
- Burning sensation
If the reaction to insect bites is local, it usually doesn’t require allergy testing, even though the affected area can be stretch from 30 cm to the entire arm or leg. The edema may last over 48 hours and it can be painful, but it is not dangerous if the air passages are not affected.
Allergic Reactions to Insect Bites
Generally, the allergic reactions to insect bites are more severe than the usual symptoms. If the affected area is rather large, the patient needs to test if they have an allergic reaction to the insect bite. Most studies show that systemic reactions to insect bites are 5-10% higher in patients who have a history of extended skin reaction to insect stings.
Most systemic reactions to insect bites are caused by hymenoptera order insect bites, namely bee and wasp bites. The most common symptoms for systemic reaction to insect bite are:
- Difficulties in breathing
Severe systemic reactions to insect bites are more common in people who present cardiovascular pathologies.
If the following symptoms occur within 15 minutes of being bitten by an insect or a bug, you know you’re having an anaphylactic reaction:
- Chocking sensation/ not being able to breathe properly
- Hives (urticaria)
- Abdominal cramps
- Low blood pressure
Simple Insect Bites Prevention
The best treatment for insect bites is always prevention. Here are the best first aid measures to prevent insect sting in the first place:
- Avoid floral scented cosmetics. We’re talking about deodorants, body lotions, perfumes, creams or soaps that have a floral scent. Wasps in particular become more aggressive around certain cosmetic products, perfumes and food additives. In most cases, the volatile compounds in these cosmetics partially contain elements that naturally occur in the wasp venom, making them trigger their attack.
- Wear light colored clothes. Vibrant colorful clothes, especially those with floral patterns attract insects. Instead opt for light color clothes in more neutral tones. Speaking of which, you should avoid wearing shiny jewelry as well. Insects are attracted to everything shiny.
- Load on Vitamin C. Loading up on Vitamin C will give your sweat a specific smell that drives away insects and bugs.
- Natural body sprays & lotions. Use body sprays and lotions that based on mint or eucalyptus essential oils because they act as natural insect repellent.
- Herbal sachets that fight insects. There are herbs and plants that act as natural insect repellants. The most effective natural herbs that keep insects away are basil, marjoram, lavender, garlic and even tomato leaves. Fill up a small gauze bag or linen sachet with peeled garlic cloves, basil leaves or tomato leaves and hang it at the window to prevent mosquitos and other insects to enter the room.
- Essential Oils that Repel Insects. Imbue a napkin with marjoram or lavender essential oils and keep it at your bedside or hang it on the bed frame beside your head. A lavender sachet hanged near your bed is also helpful against insects. You can also place a lemon balm bouquet on your nightstand and to make it even more effective against insects, spray it with essential lavender oil.
14 Best Home Remedies for Itchy Insect Bites
Sage, thyme and basil are the best home remedies for insect bites, but there are others just as handy and effective. Here are some of the best insect sting remedies you can try at home.
# 1 Tobacco Leaves Macerate. Massage your exposed skin with a macerate made of tobacco leaves in apple cider vinegar. You can also use a lavender flower decoct or essential oils instead, such as mint, lavender and lemon balm oils to massage the skin and keep bugs and insects away.
# 2 Sage. Crush a few fresh sage leaves and apply them directly on the affected areas, to help the skin cool off. You can also use sage tincture to pad the insect bites with. Preparing the sage tincture is done by macerating 20 g sage leaves into 100 ml alcohol for 10 days.
# 3 Wormwood. Use fresh and crushed wormwood leaves to friction the insect or bug bites on your skin.
# 4 Plantago. Wash some plantago leaves well, crush them and apply them on the bites. You can also use juice from these leaves. Lemon balm leaves, lovage or horseradish leaves are just as effective for insect bites.
# 5 Aloe. Use fresh aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis) leaves to pad the bites twice a day.
# 6 Black currant leaves. Make a simple cataplasm with fresh crushed currant leaves or macerate in white wine and apply on the insect bites.
# 7 Cabbage. Crush and apply white cabbage leaves or parsley on the bites area. This remedy is amazing with mosquito bites.
# 8 Onion. Slice up an onion and apply them on the bites for 10 minutes.
# 9 Basil. Basil leaves have an amazing scarring and anti-itch effect for insect bites. Rub fresh crushed basil leaves onto the bites and you’re done.
# 10 Garden Thyme. Make an infusion with 2 tbsp. of thyme and 200 ml of water. Use the infusion to gently pad the insect bites. Repeat the procedure a few times per day.
# 11 Echinacea. In order to prevent infections and allergic reactions to insect bites, apply Echinacea or arnica tincture locally.
# 12 Essential Oils. Make a mix of the following essential oils: lavender (5 g), mint (5 g), wormwood (4 g), sage (3 g) and basil (3 g) in 20 ml alcohol. Use this oil macerate to rub locally on the insect bites. This home remedy has amazing curative properties but it can also act as an insect repellant.
# 13 Baking Soda. Make a simple solution with ½ tsp. baking soda per cup of water. Use this baking soda remedy to apply it to the insect bite a few times per day. The inflammation will disappear. Baking soda also has a great antibacterial action when it comes to insect bites.
# 14 Chervil. Rub crushed chervil leaves onto the bites. Chervil leaves stop the reactions to insect bites and the stinging.
Mosquito Bite Home Remedies
First thing to do when you get bitten by a mosquito is to wash the skin with water and soap. Avoid scratching. Also, for disinfecting the area, you can rub the bites with crushed fern leaves, parsley, blackberry leaves, tomatoes leaves or lemon slices or fruit cider vinegar.
- You can also apply a cold compress or even ice cubes directly on the mosquito bite, too.
- Arnica tincture and salt water poultices are also very effective against mosquito bites, if applied right away.
- Pad the bites with cotton soaked in medicinal alcohol mixed with mint oil (5 gr mint oil per 100 ml alcohol)
- Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it on the mosquito bites.
- Apply a cataplasm with raw cabbage leaves, leek or parsley.
- Massage the skin with a marigold tincture or balm, onion juice or garlic.
Natural ways to prevent mosquito bites
- Anoint the skin with clove, lavender, mint or lemon balm essential oils. This way you will keep mosquitos away from you.
- Mosquitos are attracted by the color yellow, so avoid wearing yellow while mosquito season.
Spider Bites Natural Remedies
Comfrey root is probably the best natural remedy for spider bite, but there are other effective things you can do. But first, here is how to use comfrey root for spider bites.
- Make a cataplasm with grated comfrey root. To prepare it, mix 3 tbsp. of grated comfrey root with 100 ml of hot water and make it into a paste. Apply the paste on the spider bite, cover with a clean piece of gauze and keep it a few hours or overnight.
- You can also make a cataplasm with freshly crushed common agrimony leaves or slightly crushed cabbage leaves.
- Apply a cold poultice or make a compress with cold water and a little vinegar and apply it on the bite.
- Massage the spider bite area with St. John’s wort tincture or a cut garlic clove. To make the tincture, you have to macerate 2 handfuls of St. John’s wort flowers for 2 weeks in 1 l of alcohol.
Black widow bite treatment
In case you get bitten by a black widow spider, you first need to remove the needle without allowing the venom bag to spill. Disinfect the area with an antiseptic solution; apply ice or a hydrocortisone cream. In severe cases, you need to see a doctor right away!
Tick Bites Remedies
In case of tick bite, the first thing to do is to remove the tick in the first 24h from the bite. For this, use a pair of blunt point tweezers. However, it is better if the tick is removed by a doctor.
Wasp Sting Remedy
Apply freshly pressed lovage or onion juice directly on the bee or wasp sting. After you have removed the needle, apply a cataplasm with scaled thyme, or simply cover the wasp sting with crushed thyme.
In Maria Treben’s famous book “Health Through God’s Pharmacy”, the naturalist recounts a a time when she used Swedish bitter to treat a 4 years old girl, who got stung by a giant venomous wasp. The girl’s arm got really swollen and deformed soon after the wasp’s sting. She imbued some cotton with Swedish bitter and applied it immediately to the sting and approx. 3 minutes later, the swallowing started to reduce in size. You can leave the poultice overnight for even greater effects.
This remedy is also recommended by naturalist Maria Treben for venomous insects, not only wasps or bees. However, in case of a severe reaction, it is best to consult a doctor right away.
Natural Insect Repellents
- Fill a fabric sachet with peeled garlic, basil leaves or tomatoes and hang it by the window to prevent insects to come in. Fill in a fabric sack with lavender in bloom or lavender oil and place it near your pillow while you sleep. Lovage essence is also a great natural insect repellent.
- Body Lotions. Prepare a macerate with tobacco leaves and apple cider vinegar or make a decoction of lavender flowers or use a mix of volatile oils of lemon balm, mint, lavender and cloves to massage the exposed skin with.
- Vitamin C. Vitamin C supplements makes your body transpire more, the smell of which acts as a natural insect repellent.
- Natural Cosmetics. Using natural body sprays, creams or pills that contain natural volatile mint or eucalyptus oils will keep the insects and bugs at a distance.
These are the most effective home remedies for insect bites, whether we’re talking about mosquito bites, spider bites, or even tick and wasp bites. Stay healthy with natural medicine!