I have been sourcing natural alternative treatments for common and serious ailments for most of my life.
Spending Time in My Backyard Results in Itchy Skin!
After leaving my husband of 21 years, I moved with my youngest into an apartment where we resided for the next seven years. Last year I was finally able to say goodbye to a neighbor who terrorized us for almost three years and move to a rental home in a quiet neighborhood with lots of trees and vegetation. It also came with a plethora of mosquitoes! I couldn't take a step outside without one landing on me. Since we moved in the middle of summer, it was too late to cultivate plants that would help with deterring the biting buggers.
I turned to the internet to find natural substances that I could apply to my skin that didn't contain harmful chemicals that I would have to shower off before bed. I found an oil combination that when mixed with apple cider vinegar, would repel the bloodsuckers. It worked. Sort of. I had to keep spraying myself repeatedly when working outdoors for extended periods of time. I found myself using almost the entire bottle in a week and decided to remain indoors until the weather cooled. I finally had a backyard again and I could only enjoy it through the sliding glass door.
My Discovery of Tea Tree Oil
I was at a local drug store with a selection of organic and natural alternatives that rivaled the local health food store, shopping for some lavender oil for use on my toddler grandson. His mother rubs it on the bottom of his feet before naps and bedtime to help him relax and sleep better. I also needed some peppermint oil for my coconut toothpaste recipe as I needed to make a new batch. Out of nowhere I thought of Tea Tree Oil. I remembered reading about it here and there but had never added it to my arsenal of natural remedies so I added a bottle to my basket.
I unpacked my purchases when I returned home and put the oils on the bathroom shelf. I reached for the Eucalyptus Oil when I got a bug to clear my sinuses while in the shower and ignored the Tea Tree Oil. It wasn't until the mosquitoes woke up from their not cold enough winter slumber and started attacking me that I remembered that bottle on my bathroom shelf. I wondered how it would affect mosquito bites, and the next thing I knew the bottle was in my hand and I was applying it directly to the affected area. I noticed an almost instant lessening of the itching with no visible side affects.
As the night wore on, the itching didn't return nor the next morning upon waking. I inspected the areas and found a massive reduction in the swelling. Hmpf. Okay, that worked, but why? So I set about researching the why.
This Stuff is Amazing!
Tea Tree Oil contains many healing properties including antiseptic, anti-fungal, antibiotic, antibacterial, reduces inflammation, and fights infections. Wow! How did I miss this amazing oil? Its anti-itch properties extend beyond mosquitoes to include any biting or stinging insects including ticks, fire ants, spiders (non-poisonous), bed bugs, fleas, and bees and wasps.
It is recommended that you dilute this strongly scented oil in a carrier oil to reduce the risk of skin irritation or allergic reaction, but my direct application caused no noticeable side effects so I proceeded to rub it directly on exposed skin to repel the nasty interlopers and spend time with my family outside. I also started adding it to the coconut oil I use as a moisturizer after a shower. The odor is quite pungent and overpowering in an earthy way which is what the mosquitoes don't like.
To make your own spray, combine several essential oils with an acidic base such as vinegar and store in either in an amber or blue glass bottle. The oils react to plastic so glass is preferable to maintain the potency and effectiveness of the oils. Oils to include in your spray include geranium, citronella, lemon eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, tea tree, peppermint, and lemongrass. The combination of oils will send mosquitoes running for your neighbor's backyard.
Always Use Caution with Essential Oils
I once made the mistake of applying lemongrass oil directly onto my skin for aching muscles and while it provided the heat relief to my muscles, my skin turned red and stayed that way for hours. Always research the best way to apply a specific oil to prevent unwanted allergic reactions. People with severe allergies should consult a medical professional prior to trying essential oils.
If essential oils don't cause an allergic reaction, you should be good to go. Natural alternatives are available that provide additional benefits besides the specific one you require that can boost your overall health. Preventing mosquito bites with natural plant oils can be achieved by having live plants in your garden or on your patio. Simply brushing up against the plants not only transfers the oils to your skin but releases their fragrance into the surrounding air to keep the buggers out of the area.
I found a website that has 15 Uses for Tea Tree Oil including combating the side effects of mosquito bites. They also manufacture a mosquito soap that repels the buggers and is safe to use for the whole family. They are globally focused on reducing the spread of diseases carried by biting insects especially Malaria. After reading the reviews, I have placed an order and await its arrival.
I also found another site that listed six other beneficial essential oils in combating biting insects and their itchy bites and the best ways to apply them including direct application, a diluted spray, an ointment you can make yourself and adding them to your bath.
Searching for natural sprays I could make at home, I found a website with a basic recipe for a natural bug repellent and another website for more oils to combat biting insects. There is plenty of reference material available on the benefits of Tea Tree Oil and natural bug repellents to help you spend more time outdoors without the bothersome itch summer insects inflict. Using natural substances rather than DEET based products are better for you and the environment, so go natural whenever you can.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Lorna Lamon on June 13, 2019:
I suffer with allergy's to most bites in particular mosquito bites and I also use tea tree oil which relieves the pain and annoying itch. I will also look at the other sites you reference in your very helpful article. Thank you for sharing.