Cookouts, beach trips...and bug bites?! While the warmer weather brings sunshine and outdoor adventure, it can also mean falling prey to tiny insects. While mainly harmless, these bugs can cause more annoyance than anything. Save for a few itches and bumps, most bites from small bugs are relatively safe and harmless.
Unless you carry brands like OFF! or Cortizone cream for relief, you may be surprised what household remedies you already possess for bug bite relief. Toothpaste, basil, ice, and tea bags are just some common household items that aid in the relief of bug bites. Women's Health magazine recently compiled a list of 9 Genius Ways to Relieve Bug Bites
Here's what they suggest:
1. Essential Oils
Tea tree, lavender, and coconut oils all have properties that can alleviate itching, pain, and swelling, says Neal Schultz, M.D. In particular, tea tree oil is also antibacterial, which can help prevent infection from incessant scratching. Oils from different brands may be more acidic than others, so make sure you ask the store owner or a dermatologist about an oil’s concentration before you apply it directly to your skin. If the oil is too strong, you can dilute it with water, says Schultz.
If you don’t mind a bit of stickiness, honey is an anti-inflammatory and can make the itching a little less tempting, says board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D.
3. Milk & Water
Mix equal parts skim milk and water, dip a thin cloth (like handkerchief or an old T-shirt) into the concoction, and dab your skin.
4. Lemon or Lime Juice
These fruit powerhouses provide itch relief and are antibacterial, says Schultz. If you go this route, make sure you’re inside—these juices can burn your skin
if you’re out in the sun, says Schultz.
“Most toothpastes have a mint or peppermint flavor, and the menthol ingredient creates a cooling sensation on your skin,” says Schultz. Your brain picks up on this feeling much quicker than the itching sensation. Plus, the intrinsic astringency of toothpaste helps reduce swelling.
This spice isn’t just limited to the kitchen. Basil leaves contain chemicals such as camphor, which creates a cool feeling, similar to menthol in toothpaste, says Schultz. Crush a few leaves and apply the bits directly to your bumps.
A single ice cube can constrict the blood vessels and decrease the body’s natural histamine release, says Bowe. Translation: less itching.
8. Tea Bags
It’s true! Cool tea bags draw fluid out of a bite to reduce itching and swelling, says Schultz.
This is a great home remedy to block itching because of its small acidic levels, says Schultz. Dab it onto individual spots or, if your body’s been a buffet for bugs, you can add two to three cups to warm water and soak in a tub. Apple cider vinegar may work even better, says Schultz.