Natural Bug Bite Remedy Guide
Summer lovers who venture into our great Kootenay outdoors know all too well about those pesky mosquitoes. They create nasty welts at worst or mild itching at best after their attack on unprotected skin. Staying out of reach is next to impossible for outdoor lovers, so here are some tips on how to deal with them naturally.
Citronella products repel mosquitoes… candles or incense sticks made with this essential oil repels mosquitoes in the immediate area in which the scent is able to permeate.
Many essential oils are repellent in nature. The most popular include lavender, eucalyptus, geranium, peppermint, lemongrass, cedar wood, sage, rosemary, tea tree, and of course citronella. Blend a few choice oils together for an effective repellent. Combine oils in a base of your favourite unscented body lotion or oil for easy application. Witch hazel is another effective base and can be used in a spray bottle. Be sure to shake well before each use.
CAUTION: Use on a small patch of skin at first, to rule out a sensitivity reaction to any of the oils.
Check out the selection of bug repellents carried in Personal Care. All contain combinations of essential oils. Some contain soybean oil and/or neem oil which have been found to be effective against mosquitoes. Their performance compares to and sometimes even outshines that of DEET* (see below). The key to natural repellents lies in frequent applications. Assume that once the aroma wears off, so does it’s protection. Generally, apply every 3-4 hours under normal circumstances, or every 1-2 hours if the little monsters are very voracious.
Incorporate nutritional yeast (high in B complex) and garlic into your diet. Mosquitoes seem to be sensitive to B vitamins and garlic. Alternatively, take one garlic capsule, and a B complex or 100mg of B1 daily to achieve the same results
Cover up as much as possible in clothing thick enough to prevent puncturing.
Regardless of the best precautions, most of us end up with a few bites here and there.
To remedy the itching and swelling that can result; try some of the following suggestions.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-histamine actions. Often used for allergies, this supplement can help reduce inflammation and speed healing. For those that commonly experience severe reactions, consider taking Quercetin 2-3 weeks prior to bug season to build up the nutrient in your system. Note: Quercetin’s action is enhanced when combined with Vitamin C and Bromelain.
The homeopathic remedy Ledum is the first aid choice for insect bites and puncture wounds. Taking a pellet every 15 minutes or so for the first 2 hours should give some relief. Taper off quickly after that and only take another dose the next day, if needed. Should no results be felt, try the same procedure with homeopathic Apis. This remedy is made from Bee venom and is geared towards reactions that get red, hot and swollen (very allergic).
For external applications consider one of the following directly on the inflamed area: witch-hazel, a slice of garlic, onion or potato, baking soda and water paste, sea salt and water paste, lemon/lime juice, apple cider vinegar, mashed plantain leaf, dandelion leaf/stem juice, Aloe Vera gel, clay paste, a combo of lavender and chamomile or peppermint and tea tree essential oils, Swedish Bitters, a wet black tea bag or the inside of a banana peel. Again, frequent application may be the key.
Remember: Drink or eat your greens and veggies! The alkalizing effect of greens reduces the chances of an excessive inflammatory response, something that is beneficial to more then one area of our health.
Note: The above suggestions also apply for Bee and Wasp stings. Although we have found that Bee stings respond best to a baking soda and water paste applied externally and the Apis remedy, and Wasp stings respond best to apple cider vinegar and the Vespa remedy (made from Wasp venom).
DEET*- DEET based repellents aren’t just hazardous to mosquitoes. DEET is a registered pesticide; it is absorbed through the skin and passes into the blood. The most serious concerns about DEET are its effects on the central nervous system. Combined exposure to DEET can lead to motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction. From a human health point of view, when mosquito bites are more of a nuisance than a serious health threat, as they are in North America, choosing a botanical based repellent makes the most sense.