Natural remedies can be a great alternative to bug sprays, which often contain chemicals such as DEET and permethrin that can have negative effects for many.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" as the saying goes, and when it comes to bug bites, this is no less true. Several plant essential oils are useful for their insect-repellent properties. A few of the most common ones include pennyroyal, cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, cinnamon leaf oil, and catnip oil. These can be added to water to create a bug spray. Note, pennyroyal should be avoided by pregnant women. Alternatively, citronella candles are commonly available.
If you do your best to keep bugs at bay, but still end up with a bite or sting, the primary goals are soothing irritation and healing the skin. The following herbs can be helpful in this instance.
Natural Insect Bite and Sting Remedies
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Peppermint oil or crushed leaves are cooling and can soothe itchy or inflamed bites.
Plantain (Plantago Major) Fresh plantain leaf can be used to provide immediate relief for insect bites and stings. To make a poultice, fresh plantain leaf can be mixed with bentonite clay and water to form a paste. Alternatively, a leaf can be chewed and placed directly over the bite.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Calendula oil or fresh leaves can soothe irritated, itchy skin, and can encourage healthy healing of bites and stings. A simple salve can be created with calendula, beeswax, and antiseptic essential oils, such as tea tree, rosemary, and lavender.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Comfrey infused oil or fresh juice from leaves can be used topically for many skin conditions, including rashes, scrapes, and wounds. For bites and stings, it can soothe itching and irritation.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) Witch hazel distillate is commonly available at pharmacies and is an over-the-counter relief for minor skin irritations. Create an itch-soothing poultice by mixing 3 parts baking soda with 1.5 parts witch hazel.
These remedies are made with easily found herbs and ingredients. It's wise to keep a few (or all) on hand, especially in the summer months, when those bites, stings, scrapes, and scratches inevitably occur.