This time of year, when the days become longer, sun-shot, and balmy are some of the most magical. It means long days at the beach, summer camping trips, BBQs, and evenings spent by the fire pit with friends, family, and loved ones.
Unfortunately, these days also invite a few unwanted guests who enjoy the days and nights of summer as much as you do – biting and stinging insects.
More unfortunately still is the fact that insects seem to favor me over others, a fact I’m willing to bet a lot of other people share.
Who else was dotted head to toe with calamine lotion during the summer months? I was a walking feast as soon as I stepped outside.
This is why I rely on a number of insect-repelling strategies like my bug repellent gel recipe to help keep bites to a minimum. However, when biting or stinging insects manage to find a spot I’ve missed, I need something that helps fight the itch and quell the sting and what remedy would I reach for other than a few tried and true essential oils for bug bites?
Essential Oils for Itchy Bug Bites and Painful Stings
If you, like me, have had a volatile history with biting and stinging insects like mosquitos, sand fleas, horse flies, bees, wasps, hornets, and chiggers, then rest assured that essential oils can help ease your symptoms.
There are a number of essential oils that are ideal for treating most bug bites due to their extraordinary antiseptic properties and their ability to reduce pain, itching, and inflammation.
Obviously, if you have an allergy to certain insect bites and stings, you will need to seek immediate medical treatment. This also goes for those who have been stung or bitten in areas that may cause asphyxiation like the mouth or throat.
The following essential oils and recipes are meant to be used for the typical everyday bite or sting you may experience where you want to alleviate the itching, stinging, or swelling that comes along with it.
I will, of course, add a few oils that can be used for more serious bug bites to help stimmy their progression on your way to the hospital.
So, having said all of that, let’s get into the oils!
Which essential oil is best for bug bites?
For bites that are itchy and swollen, like those from a mosquito, I find that peppermint and lavender are two of the best.
The peppermint is soothingly cooling to the skin which helps bring down inflammation and reduces the sensation of itching. This is due to its menthol content which helps stimulate the sensory receptors of the skin which alleviate the urge to scratch. (source)
Lavender helps bring down inflammation, reduce pain and itching, and helps heal the bite itself.
Here are some of the best essential oils you can use for bug bites:
- Basil – a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever
- Cinnamon bark – must be well diluted. Helps break down proteins and enzymes that cause itching
- Citronella – reduces inflammation and pain. A very effective repellent
- Copaiba – when added to other oils in a blend it helps amplify their effects
- Eucalyptus globulus – cools on contact. Helps reduce itching, pain, and inflammation
- German chamomile – a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever
- Lavender – great for mosquito bites. Helps reduce inflammation, itching, and pain. Has anti-histamine properties (source)
- Lemon – anti-inflammatory and antiseptic
- Peppermint – has a pleasant cooling sensation that alleviates itching and reduces inflammation. Also a great repellent (source)
- Rosemary – soothes the pain and irritation caused by bug bites
- Sage – exhibits some anti-venom properties
- Tea tree – a powerful antiseptic and antimicrobial that helps relieve itching and swelling. Has anti-histamine properties (source)
- Thyme – anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiseptic
Basil, cinnamon bark, lavender, lemon, sage, and thyme essential oil all have anti-venom properties that help break down and neutralize the proteins and enzymes within the saliva or venom left behind by the bite or sting.
Essential Oil Recipes for Insect Bites and Stings
Below are a few recipes that work well for treating itchiness, swelling, and pain associated with typical bug bites and stings.
For stings, in particular, it is important to try and remove the stinger as soon as possible and disinfect the sting site. This will help reduce the amount of venom that gets released which in turn helps reduce symptoms and their duration.
Bug Bite Blend #1
For this blend, you will need:
- One 10ml roll-on bottle
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 4 drops eucalyptus globulus essential oil
- 3 drops German chamomile (can sub with Roman chamomile)
- 1 drop basil essential oil
- 1 tsp carrier oil
Add all of the ingredients to the roller bottle, cap closed, and roll between your palms to mix. Apply directly to the bite/sting site as soon as possible.
This blend helps reduce pain, inflammation, and itchiness. You can reapply it 2-4 times daily.
Bug Bite Blend #2
For this blend, you will need:
Begin by filling the roll-on bottle halfway with carrier oil. Next, for the final half of the bottle, add equal parts lavender and tea tree essential oil until you reach the shoulder of the roll-on bottle.
Cap closed and roll between your palms to mix.
This is a lot of essential oil in a high dilution – 50%! However, bug bites and stings are one of those instances where using very high dilutions is acceptable and this blend it works really really well.
Apply it as soon as possible to the bite/sting site 2-4 times daily.
Bug Bite Blend #3
For this blend, you will need:
- One 10ml roll-on bottle
- Carrier oil
- 7 drops lavender essential oil
- 7 drops peppermint essential oil
- 7 drops helichrysum essential oil
Add all the ingredients to the roll-on bottle, cap closed, and roll between your palms to mix.
Apply as soon as possible to the bite/sting site up to 4 times daily.
Essential Oils and Essential Oil Blends for Specific Insect Bites
Bed Bug Bites
Mix one of the above essential oils 50/50 with carrier oil and apply it to the bite location 3-5 times daily for 2 days.
Bee, Hornet, and Wasp Stings
Remove the stinger and clean the sting site. Next, apply one drop of carrier oil over the sting site, followed by a single drop of Roman chamomile essential oil (or one drop of any of the above oils) and massage it into the skin on and around the sting site three times daily for two days.
What essential oil helps spider bites?
Black Widow Spider Bites
If you have been bitten by a black widow, you must seek immediate emergency medical treatment. On the way to the hospital, you can apply one drop of lavandin or lemon essential oil neat (undiluted) to the bite site every two minutes until you reach professional medical treatment. Do not massage the area.
Brown Recluse Spider Bites
If you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, seek immediate emergency medical treatment. On the way to the hospital, apply one drop of lavender or myrrh essential oil to the bite site neat (undiluted) every 10 minutes until you reach professional medical treatment. Do not massage the area.
What essential oils are good for chigger bites?/ What essential oil is best for tick bites?
You must remove the chigger or tick before you can treat the bite. In order to do this using essential oils, mix equal parts thyme or oregano essential oil with carrier oil and apply 1-2 drops over the bite site.
Eventually, the phenols in these oils will force the chigger or tick to let go. You can also use a single drop of peppermint essential oil on the bite site to make them let go.
After they fall off, apply 1 drop of any of the above oils to the bite site neat (undiluted) or mixed 50/50 in carrier oil 3-5 times daily for 2 days.
What essential oils are good for ant bites?
To help neutralize the sting and ease itching, apply 1 drop of any of the above essential oils to the sting site immediately after you’ve been stung. You can then apply any of the above oils to the site diluted 50/50 with carrier oil to the area 3-5 times daily for 2 days.
Which essential oil is best for mosquito bites?
As soon as you notice you have been bitten by a mosquito, apply a 50/50 dilution of either essential oil above in carrier oil and apply it to the bite. Reapply as needed.
What have been your favorite essential oils for treating bug bites naturally?
Please share them in the comments below!
You may also enjoy reading:
Rhind, Jennifer Peace. Aromatherapeutic blending: Essential oils in synergy. Singing Dragon, 2015.
Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Revised and Expanded: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments. New World Library, 2016.
Higley, Connie. Reference guide for essential oils. Abundant Health, 1998.
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