Summer is back and so are those pesky bugs. If you spend much time outside at all, you are likely to encounter one of these little 6-legged critters. And chances are at some point you or one of your family member will get bitten by one. While most of them are not necessarily dangerous, bites can become inflamed, red or itchy. There are a few bites which need to be treated by a medical professional, especially for those who have allergic reactions. However, most insect bites are minor and essential oils may provide relief from bug bite symptoms. EOs can help reduce itching, swelling and general discomfort without harsh chemicals or ingredients found in many over the counter pharmaceutical products.
Tips for Using EOs for Bug Bites
Essential oils are safe to use for most bug bites. Here are a few basic tidbits of information that are important and can help you with oil applications.
- Always dilute EOs with a carrier oil before applying to the skin. Carrier oils include coconut, avocado, grapeseed or other vegetable oils.
- Some oils have antimicrobial properties that can often help reduce the risk of infection.
- Anti-inflammatory oils are best used to reduce swelling and itching that are commonly caused by bug bites.
- Individuals who are having an allergic reaction to a bug bite, or have had a reaction to oils, should seek a physician’s help before using oils.
Best Oils for Bug Bites and How to Use Them
There are many of the essential oils that can help relieve bug bite discomforts. Here the top five are discussed along with the best way to use them to provide some relief. In no particular order, the five oils commonly used include:
- Lemongrass EO: Lemongrass essential oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that may help bring relief to bug bite areas. This can help prevent infection following a bug bite. Many times, pain is caused by inflammation. Lemongrass helps reduce inflammation which brings relief to the bug bite area.
How to Use Lemongrass Oil: Dilute the oil with a carrier oil and apply it to the affected region.
- Peppermint EO: If you are looking for soothing relief from a bug bite, peppermint oil may be your answer. It is soothing and a powerful anti-inflammatory. By preventing the urge to itch, peppermint oil can help speed the healing process along. It is also useful for helping improve the appearance and reduce redness around the bitten area.
How to Use Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil is one of the only NEAT oils that doesn’t require dilution. It can be applied directly to the area of the bite. It should be applied to the area two to three times a day to help speed healing. If you tend to have sensitive skin, dilute it with a carrier oil before applying.
- Basil EO: Bug bites can take a long time to heal due to the intense itching they produce. Even though you go to sleep, the inflammation causes you to scratch. Basil essential oil can help reduce the itching associated with bites which makes it less urgent to scratch.
How to Use Basil Oil: It’s best if you can apply basil EO right before bedtime. Dilute 2 or 3 drops of the oil with a carrier oil and apply it directly to the site of the bite before heading to bed. The inflammation should be significantly reduced by the time you get out of bed in the morning.
- Lavender EO: Lavender essential oil is often a go-to oil because of its ability to help relax the mind but used topically, it can also help reduce inflammation and pain commonly associated with bug bites. An additional benefit is that most bugs find lavender repulsive and so it is often used as a bug repellant to prevent bites from occurring in the first place.
How to Use Lavender Oil: Place 10 drops of lavender EO in a bath of warm water. Soaking in a warm lavender bath for 20 to 30 minutes can offer relief.
- Tea Tree EO: Tea Tree oil is well known for its anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is useful for soothing inflammation around the affected area of skin. It can be beneficial for eliminating pain and inflammation around the bite wound. If the wound is open, it can also help prevent an infection from attacking the body.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree essential oil is very concentrated, so always dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil before applying it to the skin. Blend five drops of the oil with a tablespoon of aloe vera gel or a carrier oil then massage it gently around the bitten area. When applied regularly, the symptoms should clear up in one to two days.
Proceed with Caution
Essential oils are effective due to their anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiseptic properties. However, there are some risks that need to be addressed. While in general, oils are safe to use to treat insect bites, some can cause skin irritation especially for people with sensitive skin. Used as a topical remedy, they can bring relief from redness, itching, and burning, but offer no protection from blood-borne pathogens such as are common with mosquito bites. In other words, they won’t treat an infection. Talk to your medical care provider about any concerns and if the bite symptoms do not go away in just a few days, consult with a medical professional.