For those who love lounging on warm summer evenings and romantic walks in the park, the cost is often feeling like a two-legged, all-you-can-eat buffet for insects. Being bitten can be serious: Scratching may provide temporary relief, but can often lead to infection if scratched too often, particularly with dirty fingernails.
While insect repellent can only do so much to prevent damage, when insects bite, there are some household remedies that won’t cost the earth to apply.
Know Your Enemy: Identifying Bug Bites For Effective Treatment
Knowing what bit you, and how to treat it will make all the difference in your recovery: Bites from ticks can lead to Lyme Disease, while mosquito bites are annoying, they are only life threatening if an allergy is present. A great resource to identifying bug bites can be found on WebMD.com.
Ordinary mosquito bites can be treated with items found in your kitchen pantry. However, bites from insects like ticks, bedbugs and certain spiders require medical attention, and often, antibiotic treatment.
Non-Toxic Remedies for Bug Bites
- A perennial favourite is using baking soda, or toothpaste: Since baking soda is already an ingredient in most toothpaste brands, the peppermint flavour is an unnecessary addition. The minty scent may actually attract some mosquitoes, which are drawn to fragrances. Making a paste with tea-tree oil and baking soda will soothe the bitten area, as well as disinfect any broken skin.
- Some folk remedies swear by applying apple cider vinegar, witch hazel and rubbing alcohol to the bite.
- Shea Butter is another option: Buying a jar of an all-natural shea butter, that hasn’t been packaged with artificially colouring, fragrance or preservatives can provide relief, as well as moisturizing properties to raw, scratched skin. This solution can also be used as a remedy for sunburnt skin, soothing rashes and can be used as a balm for chapped lips.
- Homeopathic cures such as using neem oil and calendula have sometimes been touted as less toxic options. The University of Maryland featured an article on the use of essential oils in treating bug bites. This article also features great tips on danger signs to look for in a bug bite.
Dangers Behind Some Commercial Bug Bite Remedies
Many over-the-counter remedies are water-soluble which is not in itself a bad thing, but when they also contain dangerous chemicals, it will leach into your drinking water. That in turn, affects our eco-system, if our fish and vegetation are inundated with toxins.
Some commercial bite-remedies such as After Bite ® contains ammonia, a substance already found in bleach. At its mildest, ammonia can also cause skin irritations. At its worst, ammonia has been identified as a carcinogen, and linked to cancer with repeated use.
There are some who combat severe reactions to bug bites with oral antihistamines: Check to see if your topical remedy already contains them: Antihistamines like hydroxyzine is not recommended for children under six months, and promethazine and alimemazine are not recommended for children under two years.
However, if severe reactions to an insect bite occur, such as wheezing or shortness of breath, it is recommended to call 911.