Natural Remedies for Insect Bites

Natural Remedies for Insect Bites

In my last post, I looked at 10 essential oils that can repel insects. Taking preventative measures can help reduce the chances of getting bitten, but it’s not always possible to avoid insect bites altogether. If you do get bitten there are many natural methods of treating the bite (or bites). In addition to being itchy and irritating, insect bites and stings can transfer bacteria or other microbes to the skin. Scratching bug bites can also transfer unwanted germs into the bite and can cause further inflammation and irritation. So it’s important to treat insect bites quickly and to reduce the itching as much as possible. The next time you have a bug bite, try one or more of the following.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera helps treat insect bites

Aloe vera is probably best known for its ability to heal sunburns. However, it is also useful for treating bug bites. Aloe vera contains over 130 active compounds and 34 amino acids that nourish the skin and support its health. It can also help reduce inflammation, itching, and swelling around the bite.

Apple Cider Vinegar

It may not smell great, but apple cider vinegar can help take the itch out of bug bites. It is less acidic than other vinegars and can help restore the pH balance to the skin around bites. For individual bites, put a few drops of ACV on a cotton ball, and dab it on. For bites all over, add two to three cups of vinegar to a warm bath, and soak. Don’t worry- you won’t smell like vinegar; the smell dissipates quickly.

Baking Soda

Plain old baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can lower inflammation and relieve itching. To treat bites, make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to the bite.

Lavender Essential Oil

With its antimicrobial properties, lavender essential oil is ideal for insect bites. As an anti-inflammatory agent, lavender oil also helps to reduce redness, itching, and swelling.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil for insect bites

This essential oil creates a cooling sensation, which reaches the brain faster than that itchy feeling caused by insect bites. The brain can only perceive one sensation at a time, so peppermint oil can essentially block the itching, providing temporary relief.

Tamanu Oil

Found in the nut of a tropical tree, tamanu oil has a wealth of properties that make it well-suited for treating insect bites and stings. It helps relieve pain and itching associated with bites. Tamanu oil also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce swelling and redness. Finally, it promotes healing of tissues and supports the formation of new, healthy skin. Tamanu oil is found in Verefina First Aid Stick and First Aid Ointment. These first aid products also contain lavender and tea tree essential oils, so they are ideal for use on insect bites.

Tea Bags

A cooled tea bag can work wonders for bites. The tannins in the tea help to reduce swelling by drawing excess fluids out of the affected area. Tannins also help pull toxins from insect bites.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Like lavender essential oil, tea tree oil is antimicrobial, making it useful for healing infections. It is anti-inflammatory as well, so it can decrease itching, swelling, and pain. To treat insect stings with tea tree essential oil, first remove the stinger. Then apply tea tree oil diluted with a carrier oil to the affected area.

Witch Hazel

A natural astringent, witch hazel is found in many personal care products. It works especially well in combination with baking soda. When blended with baking soda, witch hazel helps pull fluids out of and reduce inflammation around insect bites. Simply blend a little bit of baking soda into a small amount of witch hazel until a paste forms; apply to affected areas.

Sources:

Gardenista. “5 Natural Ways to Ease Bug Bite Itching.” Care2. 27 July 2013. Web 23 July 2015.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-natural-ways-to-ease-bug-bite-itching.html

Isaacs, Tony. “Natural Remedies and Repellents for Biting and Stinging Insects.” Natural News. 12 September 2008. Web. 24 July 2015.

http://www.naturalnews.com/024158_oil_natural_remedies.html

Kilham, Chris. “Natural Remedies for Bug Bites.” Fox News. 26 June 2012. Web. 23 July 2015.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/26/natural-remedies-for-bug-bites/

Klein, Sarah. “Mosquito Bite Treatment: 14 Natural Ways to Ease the Itch.” Huffington Post. 20 June 2012. Web. 23 July 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/natural-mosquito-bite-treatment_n_1610186.html

Mercola, Joseph. “Baking Soda Uses: To Remove Splinters– and to Address Many Other Health Needs.” Mercola.com. 27 August 2012. Web. 24 July 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/27/baking-soda-natural-remedy.aspx

Mercola, Joseph. “How to Prevent and Treat Insect Bites Without Harsh Chemicals.” Mercola.com. 22 July 2013. Web. 24 July 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/22/insect-bite-treatment.aspx

Mercola, Joseph. “Lavender Oil: A Love for Lavender Oil.” Mercola.com. Web. 23 July 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/lavender-oil.aspx

10 Essential Oils that Repel Insects

essential-oils-that-repel-insects

The bugs have been out for a while now. And if you’re one of those unlucky people who attracts biting insects, then finding an effective way to keep them at bay is probably a must for you. There are many insect repelling options out there, but some products- especially those made with DEET– may have a negative impact on your health. If you’d prefer to find an effective, toxin-free way of repelling insects, then essential oils may be the best answer for you. There are a number of essential oils that can keep bugs away- without the toxic side effects.

Catnip

Research done at Iowa State University found that catnip essential oil is roughly 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (source).

Cedarwood

Cedarwood essential oil is obtained from the steam distillation of pieces of cedar. It is useful for repelling flies, mosquitoes, and other pests (source).

Citronella

Citronella essential oil is an old standby as a natural insect repellent. Derived from a plant related to geraniums, this oil works by masking the scents that generally attract insects, thereby making it difficult for them to find their targets (source). It has been used as an insect repellant since 1948.

Clove

The compound eugenol is responsible for many of clove essential oil’s health benefits. Although undiluted clove essential oil can provide two to four hours of protection against mosquitoes (source), the pure oil can cause irritation on the skin. If you want to use undiluted clove oil to deter mosquitoes, put it on your clothing , rather than directly on your skin. Just be sure to check on an unnoticeable spot to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolor the fabric. Putting clove oil in a diffuser can also help keep mosquitoes away.

Cloves can also deter moths and ants. Place a mesh bag with crushed cloves in areas where these critters are a problem.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a popular ingredient in natural bug repellants because it can help repel mosquitoes. This oil, diluted at 15%, can deter mosquitoes for up to three hours; when combined with vanillin, it is effective for about five hours (source). A 2010 study found that eucalyptus essential oil is also effective at deterring the sandfly (source).

Lavender

Lavender essential oil is a popular oil with a wide range of uses. While it gives off a sweet, floral scent to humans, many insects are repelled by linalool, a naturally-occurring alcohol found in lavender (source). Lavender is particularly repellant to mosquitoes, fleas, houseflies, and moths but is safe for both humans and pets. Its effectiveness is increased when combined with other essential oils, such as citronella.

Lemongrass

A relative of citronella, lemongrass has a stronger, spicier scent that many biting bugs will avoid. It is especially effective against horse flies and mosquitoes.

Patchouli

Patchouli essential oil can provide up to two hours of protection against insects (source). Many people can tolerate higher concentrations of patchouli, but even a dilution of 10% can be effective.

Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil may be refreshing and energizing for people, but mosquitoes don’t like it. This oil has been found to provide complete protection against mosquitoes for about 2.5 hours (source).

Tea Tree

Tea tree essential oil has a strong scent that keeps ants, horse flies, and other insects away.

DIY Insect Repellent

You can make your own all-natural insect repellent using essential oils:

Ingredients

* 50-60 drops essential oils (choose from any of the ones listed above)

* 4 oz. distilled water

* 4 oz. witch hazel

* 8 oz. spray bottle (glass is preferable, as essential oils can break down plastic)

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in the spray bottle, and shake gently to mix. Shake before each use, and spray on exposed skin before going outside.

Sources:

“Crafting a Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils.” Herbal Academy of New England. 18 June 2014. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/06/crafting-a-natural-bug-repellent-with-essential-oils/

Ettinger, Jill. “Smell Fantastically Natural and Repel Insects: 6 Essential Oils for Summer.” Ecosalon. 2 July 2013. Web. 7 July 2015.

http://ecosalon.com/repel-insects-6-essential-oils-for-summer/

Langton, Nicole. “Essential Oils That Repel Insects.” LiveStrong. 21 October 2013. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/117530-essential-oils-repel-insects/

Masters, Madeline. “What Kind of Bugs Does Lavender Essential Oil Repel?” SFGate. Web. 10 July 2015.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/kind-bugs-lavender-essential-oil-repel-83930.html

Mercola, Joseph. “Tea Tree Oil: Three Cheers for Tea Tree Oil.” Mercola.com. Web. 30 June 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/tea-tree-oil.aspx

“Oil of Citronella General Fact Sheet.” National Pesticide Information Center. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/citronellagen.html#howwork

Schoffro Cook, Michelle. “8 Natural Mosquito Repellents.” Care2. 30 May 2013. Web. 9 July 2015.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-natural-mosquito-repellents.html

Trongtokit Y., Rongsriyam Y., Komalamisra N., Apiwathnasorn C. “Comparative Repellency of 38 Essential Oils Against Mosquito Bites.” PubMed. 19 April 2005. Web. 20 July 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16041723

Turner, Paige. “Cloves as a Repellent.” SFGate. Web. 21 July 2015.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cloves-repellent-83624.html

Yang P., Ma Y. “Repellent effect of plant essential oils against Aedes albopictus.” PubMed. 30 December 2005. Web 20 July 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16599157

Yigzaw, Erika. “Green Cleaning: 10 Essential Oils That Naturally Repel Insects.” American College of Healthcare Sciences. 26 June 2014. Web. 7 July 2015.

http://info.achs.edu/blog/green-cleaning-10-essential-oils-that-naturally-repel-insects

“15 Cedarwood Uses for Wisdom and Beauty.” Dr. Axe. Web. 9 July 2015.

http://draxe.com/cedarwood-essential-oil/

“25 Uses for Peppermint Oil.” Dr. Axe. Web. 21 July 2015.

http://draxe.com/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits/

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DIY Sanitizing Wipes

DIY Sanitizing WipesHave you ever used those disposable sanitizing wipes? They’re so handy and convenient…and, unfortunately, so wasteful, too. Not to mention frequently loaded with chemical ingredients. Wipes made by more eco-conscious companies have fewer chemicals in them, but they’re still intended to be thrown away after one use.

I’ll admit that I occasionally buy and use these wipes. As I just said, they’re convenient. But it occurred to me a while ago that there may be a better alternative. Before our kids were potty-trained, I made Reusable Diaper Wipes. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I realized that I could make my own sanitizing wipes for cleaning, too. You just need to cut up an old shirt or towel and use some Castile soap and essential oils to make a sanitizing solution for the wipes. Many essential oils have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, so they are ideal natural cleaners.


DIY Sanitizing Wipes

Supplies

Directions

  1. Add 30 drops (total) of essential oils to one cup of Castile soap. Stir gently to mix.
  2. Place the cut-up t-shirt or towel pieces in the container, and pour the soap mixture over them. Make sure all pieces are thoroughly moistened.
  3. Use on counters, walls, door knobs, or other hard surfaces that need a quick cleaning.
  4. Wash the wipes in hot water, dampen with the soap solution, and reuse.

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Verefina Shea Butter Bar Soaps are Here

Verefina Shea Butter Bar Soaps

I’m excited to let you all know that Verefina’s Shea Butter Bar Soaps are now available. I’m currently using the Lavender Shea Butter Bar, and it is heavenly. Made with 100% natural ingredients, the Lavender Shea Butter Bar is scented with lavender essential oil  and is extremely moisturizing. I wrote about this new soap on Verefina’s blog a few weeks ago:

The Shea Butter Bar is made with a combination of carefully selected ingredients that soothe and protect the skin. Coconut oil and shea and cocoa butters moisturize the skin. These two butters also contain antioxidants that help heal damage caused by exposure to environmental toxins and the sun’s rays. Shea butter is a good source of vitamin A, a nutrient that can help address conditions such as blemishes, wrinkles, and dermatitis. Cocoa butter can aid healing of the skin, so it may help with problems such as dermatitis (source). Aloe vera juice contains high levels of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that help nourish the skin.

Because the Shea Butter Bar Soap contains so many healing ingredients, it is also safe for use on skin affected by eczema, psoriasis, and rashes. And it is free of sulfates, which can cause these conditions to flare up. Using one of Verefina’s three lotions after washing with the Shea Butter Bar can help lock moisture into the skin and prevent irritation.

The Shea Butter Bar is also safe for use on infants and children. The Lavender or Unscented bars are best for little ones. Always be careful to avoid the eyes.

With so many benefits, the whole family will love Verefina’s new Shea Butter Bars.

Sources:

Callahan, Christy. “The Benefits of Pure Cocoa Butter.” LiveStrong. 16 August 2013. Web. 22 February 2015.

Photo curtesy of Verefina.

Verefina Easter Sale Going on Now!

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Verefina’s Easter Sale is underway! From now through April 5th, get 20% off all items for babies and kids and FREE shipping on ALL orders!

If you haven’t yet tried Verefina’s baby and kids products, now is a great time to do so. Like the rest of the Verefina line, products for kids are free of harmful ingredients, such as sulfates, artificial fragrances, and parabens. Their baby soap contains aloe vera juice to soothe and hydrate baby’s delicate skin. It is also made with a combination of plant oils that provide moisture and nutrients such as vitamin E. Verefina baby lotion is available in unscented and lavender, which is lightly scented with lavender essential oil. This gentle lotion moisturizes your baby’s skin with natural ingredients including aloe vera juice, apricot kernel oil, and calendula flower extract.

Verefina’s kids line includes soap, lotion, and lip balm. These products come in three fun scents that your kids will love: bubblegum, orange squeeze, and root beer.

Try Verefina’s baby and kids products at a discounted price right now and enjoy free shipping on ALL orders until April 5.

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DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen

DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen

The weather has suddenly warmed up (hooray!). Our family has been spending more time outside recently, which means that sunscreen is a must. A while back I published a post on Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen, and I have another sunscreen recipe for you today. It’s really quite easy to make your own sunscreen. So many sunscreens are loaded with synthetic chemicals, and even “natural” ones have a lot of junk in them too. When you make your own, though, you can decide exactly what goes into it. I’ve experimented with the recipe on and off for a couple of years and have chosen ingredients that provide excellent protection from the sun.

As with the Olive Oil Lotion Sunscreen, the active ingredient in this recipe is zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a highly effective sunscreen that creates a physical barrier between the sun’s rays and the skin. The recipe also calls for coconut oil. In addition to being a great moisturizer, coconut  oil also has a natural SPF of about 7 (source). Aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that help nourish the skin. It’s high water content also helps cool and moisturize skin. You can also use olive or almond oil in place of the aloe vera gel. Like coconut oil, these oils both provide natural UV protection; olive oil has an SPF of about 7.5, while almond oil has an SPF of about 4.5 (source). Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals (unstable molecules) that are generated by exposure to UV rays. It also acts as a natural preservative in the sunscreen. Lavender essential oil has a natural SPF as well (source).


DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen

Ingredients:
* ¼ cup virgin coconut oil
* 2-3 Tbsp aloe vera gel (may substitute olive or almond oil)
* grated beeswax (optional if you prefer thicker sunscreen)
* 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil
* 5-6 drops lavender essential oil*
* 5 tsp zinc oxide

* Peppermint also provides extra SPF, but be very careful to avoid the eyes if you use it. Children under the age of 6 are frequently quite sensitive to peppermint, so you may not want to use it if you’ll be putting this sunscreen on little ones. Never use citrus essential oils; they can actually increase sensitivity to the sun.

Directions:

1. Heat coconut oil, aloe vera gel or oil, and beeswax (if using) on low until just melted and thoroughly mixed.

Melted Coconut Oil2. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vitamin E oil until completely blended.

3. Carefully stir in the essential oil and then the zinc oxide.

DIY Coconut Oil Sunscreen4. Pour the sunscreen into a jar, and allow it to cool. It will take an hour or so for the coconut oil to become completely solid again.

Makes about 1/2 cup. Should maintain its SPF for up to 3 months.

Caution and Tips: Zinc oxide can be hazardous to your health if inhaled. Always cover your nose and mouth with a mask or cloth while handling it. Store the sunscreen in cool place (such as a cooler) for easiest application. To increase SPF add more zinc oxide. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 1.5-2 hours.

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