Summer’s here and with our mild winter, the bees, wasps, horseflies and other critters are out in force! Having been stung myself twice last week, here are my natural remedies for wasp stings, bee stings and insect bites.
Let’s Start With Prevention
Mosquitoes are attracted to people who literally smell sweet, so if you eat a lot of sugary foods, you’ll be a prime target. You can also make yourself smell nasty by taking a Brewers Yeast or B Complex tablet every day. If you’re going on holiday where there are lots of mozzies, come off all sugar and take your tablets for at least 2 weeks beforehand. I also offer a herbal travel mix which seems to help prevent mosquito bites and can be applied to the skin if the worst happens.
With Lyme Disease becoming increasingly common, it’s important to know that now any biting insect (not just Ticks) can carry it. You’re at higher risk of bites in areas where there are lots of wild animals like deer, but pets, hedgehogs, foxes and other animals that would use your garden can also carry Ticks. If you’re out and about, make sure you keep your feet and legs well covered. Tuck your trousers into socks or boots, drink Cistus incanus (Rock Rose) tea before and during visits to high risk areas, and apply Rose Geranium essential oil in a base oil to your skin beforehand. Baby Ticks are only the size of a freckle so you’ll need to look carefully when you get home, and use a Tick remover, and magnifying glass to make sure you remove any Ticks safely and completely. If you notice any unusual symptoms after spending time outdoors, even if you haven’t noticed any bites, get an urgent appointment with your GP and tell them you suspect Lyme Disease. Look out for:
- Bull’s Eye Rash (see the picture)
- Muscle or joint pains
- Feeling sick
- Fever and/or chills
- Digestive problems
A list of other symptoms can be found here.
Wasp stings are alkaline and you can start treating them with vinegar to help neutralise the sting. Then apply neat Echinacea tincture and take 20 drops of Echinacea in water every 10 minutes. If you don’t have Echinacea to hand, a compress made from a Chamomile tea bag, and regular cups of Chamomile tea will work too. Over the coming days you can use Aloe vera gel and/or Lavender essential oil (keep refrigerated) to help relieve the pain and itching. If you have a severe allergic reaction to any stings, seek urgent medical help.
Unlike wasps, bees will only sting once and leave their sting in the skin pumping out venom for a few minutes afterwards. Remove the sting by swiping it with your fingernail or a credit card (don’t pinch it as you’ll release more venom!) and apply bicarb of soda in water, or onion juice. These are alkaline, so they neutralise the acidity of the sting. Again, apply Echinacea and take it internally every few minutes as for wasp stings.
Bee Or Wasp?
Wasps have smaller waists, brighter colours and longer wings than bees. Remember ‘Vinegar for Vasps and Bicarb for Bees’!
Mosquito Bites are easily treated with Echinacea tincture, cold Aloe vera gel and internally you could take either Echinacea, Chamomile or Aloe vera gel. Infected bites should be seen by a Medical Herbalist or your GP as soon as possible.
St John’s Wort is excellent for Horsefly bites and often quite easy to come by. If there’s any to hand, chew some leaves and flowers and apply it to the bite immediately. Otherwise, you could do the same with a Plantain leaf, or use Echinacea, Aloe vera or Chamomile as described above.
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