by Jason Johnson
It is with a huge amount of joy in my heart that I declare it is finally spring in South Africa. Much to my delight, winter’s stay was as brief as pay day and even I have to admit that winter 2014 was quite tolerable.
Now that spring has arrived and the weather has shown signs of improving, we’re faced with an entirely new set of challenges. With the dawning of spring comes the start of biting-insect season.
Mosquitoes, bed bugs, fleas and even spiders all wake up from their winter slumber ready to launch a full-on attack on my face and neck area. It may seem narcissistic of me to believe that the bugs’ main goal in life is to destroy my natural beauty, but they have given me strong reason to believe this over the last few years.
So, if you are one of those people who are prone to insect bites during the warmer months, have a look at my list of natural remedies for insect bites. Even if you look like you were in a fight the next morning, at least you can do something about the itching.
Not just a great ingredient in a cup of tea or a sangria, lemon juice is an effective method of relieving mosquito bites. It will help with the itching as well as the swelling and leave you smelling fresh in the process.
Simply cut a ripe lemon into slices and rub the slices onto the affected areas. Lemons contain anti-inflammatory properties that are great for alleviating annoying, itchy skin conditions such as insect bites.
There is a reason that so many creams and sun tan lotions contain Aloe Vera. It is well known that the gel from the spiky leaves is an almost-miracle treatment for most skin conditions. These plants are effective at treating minor burns and sunburns. They are also effective for treating insect bites from mosquitoes, bed bugs and flea bugs.
Simply cut the leaves at the meaty part and place in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes or until cool. Once cool, squeeze the cut end to extract the gel. Once you have removed the gel, apply it to the insect bite. The cool gel will give you instant relief while the antiseptic qualities of the gel go to work. What’s really great about this plant is that you can store the plants as well as the extracted gel in your fridge for a long time.
If you are unable to get your hands on an actual Aloe Vera bush, the gel is readily available at health stores and pharmacies in the form of an ointment or lotion.
Nature’s version of hair of dog, honey has been discovered to hold many anti-bacterial and antiseptic qualities. Honey can provide relief from inflamed and painful insect bites and stings. While the scientific jury is still out on exactly how effective honey will be for treating bites, preliminary data shows that if applied generously to a bite or sting, honey will help to provide relief.
Not only is baking soda effective when you are stung by a wasp or bee, it’s also great for treating mosquito bites. Because baking soda is an alkaline, it neutralizes the PH of the skin and this relieves the itching from the bite.
Simply create a paste with some water and apply generously to the effected area. I have used this baking soda to treat a mosquito bite before and it worked wonderfully. As a variation I made the paste using Aloe Vera gel to double the efficacy. You could use witch hazel or even olive oil; both work well to create a paste.
This is the holy grail of at home remedies for insect bites, according to my mom anyway. I have used toothpaste on mosquito and flea bites since I was about 5 years old. The mint/eucalyptus flavouring in most toothpaste creates a soothing and cooling effect on the skin and provides quick relief from itching and swelling.
So there you have it. I hope these home remedies leave you better prepared for the summer insect onslaught this year. Also remember never to scratch insect bites as this will just irritate your skin and may actually leave a scar. Be sure to cover insect bites with a plaster to remind you not to scratch and for extremely painful bites or stings, it is always advisable to seek medical attention.