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Summer is near and if you’re anything like me you need little excuse to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. While I’m hesitant to bring up any negatives that nice weather brings, there’s no denying that Mother Nature’s insects are also equally excited for this time of year. Naturally I seem to fall victim to being the ultimate prey for mosquitos, and research shows that I’m a desirable specimen. As a runner, the more time I spend outdoors over years, I’ve discovered the need to prevent and not just treat these instances (hello, calamine lotion). Coating myself in a layer of an unpleasantly smelling mist is not the most appealing idea for me when it comes to a long run outside or just an afternoon on the patio. So, I’ve been on an exploration for some all-natural alternatives to let me enjoy the great outdoors without the negative product elements. Here are some natural options to prevent and treat the vicious bite of the bug.
Staying inside from dawn to dusk, and covering yourself from head to toe in light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants is certainly not any way to experience summer, so here are some more realistic alternatives.
-Plant wisely. Lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, and marigolds are all proven repellents, and could make the perfect patio all that more comfortable for hanging out.
-Minced onion and garlic are proven repellents of mosquitos, but may also be repellents of people (use at your own risk.) If you consume a lot of garlic/onion, you might be naturally be building up your own defense. Consider taking the over-the-counter pill form if introducing them into your everyday meal is not ideal.
-The sweet scent of cinnamon may come as a surprise that it’s actually a repellent. Add a couple of drops of cinnamon oil to your favorite lotion (ideally unscented) or sunscreen before heading out the door.
-Soybean oil (in organic form) is not only inexpensive and easy to find, and just so happens to double as a moisturizer.
-And of course good ol’ citronella is always a tried and true deterrent!
Our bodies’ natural response to a bite is the chemical release of histamine, aka the itch. Unfortunately, the itching sensation won’t completely subside until the bite has fully healed so treatment is important.
-Green tea can help soothe the itch and inflammation associated with the bite, or a quick soak in an oatmeal bath can also provide relief.
-Spot treatment with honey can help. Since it’s an antiseptic it’ll prevent an infection that can sometimes result once the scratching begins. Just don’t apply if you plan to go back outside as the sweet smell could attract more bites.
-Aloe might be a quick bet for fast relief. The anti-inflammatory elements combat the itch. If you keep it cold in your fridge it adds another layer of relief. If you’ve invested in an aloe plant, cut it open and apply to the affected area.
-Basil not only adds an herbaceous element to your meals, but it can help soothe the swelling from a bite. Research shows the scent can also repel mosquitos.
-Freeze out the itch. Icing down a bite can keep the spot from swelling (hello welt) as well as numb the nerves from encouraging you to itch in the first place.
-With anti-bacterial and anti-viral elements, tea tree is great option to not only provide relief, but also prevent an infection. Consider an essential oil option for an easy application.
-While a little pungent with its powerful aroma, vinegar can be applied directly to the bite with a cotton ball or diluted in a bath if you’ve experienced more than just a single bite. Looking for a milder version, try a mixture of milk and water and apply a cold compress.
-Turns out, baking soda isn’t just for baking. As a “sodium bicarbonate” it helps to neutralize the PH balance of your skin. Create a paste with a tablespoon of soda and water mixture. Apply to the skin, and then remove after 10 minutes.
-Lemon and lime juices have their bite relief, but don’t apply and go outside after application or you might end up sunburnt as a result.
-Ever seem to notice your bug bites less after a swim at the beach? That’s the salt relief. If you’re nowhere near the open waters, consider creating a paste much like the baking soda.
-Don’t have the herb on hand? Try a dab of toothpaste. Yeah, it’s less natural in form, but a decent plan B if you must.
-There seems to be little use for the banana peel, but it’s actually a great solution to help draw out the fluid from the bite due to the sugary chemical make up.
-Known for its ultimate soothing capabilities, chamomile might be one of the most effective natural ways to treat a bite when applied topically.
-Ever suffered from puffy eyes? Cucumbers have been known to help de-puff, so naturally it makes sense that it would also help reduce swelling and provide a cool element of relief for a nasty bite.
Who knew there were so many natural remedies when it comes to preventing and treating bug bites?! Next time take a trip to the kitchen before you go in search of over the counter.