Melody is a volunteer for the Center for Disease and Control Prevention. She enjoys sharing her personal experience with others.
Curing Bed Bug Bites Without Chemicals
Treating Bug Bites Naturally
Try a homemade and natural bed bug treatment before the intense itching of bug bites drive you crazy, and the redness becomes real eyesore. Treating bug bites naturally can remedy both problems. Below, you will learn about natural, herbal, and home remedies for minor bug bites. How you treat your bite, or rash, might depend on what bit you.
Herbal and Home Remedies for Bug Bites:
- Witch Hazel
- Baking Soda Paste
- Juniper Berries
- Mint Oil
- Other Essential Oils
- Cinnamon and Honey
- Ayurvedic Remedies
Bugs That Bite You
If you are like most people, you are looking for ways to prevent bites from driving you crazy. If you have chronic bites, you may have a problem with bugs that cause infestations, like bed bugs and fleas. In those cases, you must cure both the bite and the infestation.
Common biting bugs:
- Bed bugs
Options for treating bug bite or rashes:
- Herbal treatments, such as essential oils and oats
- Over-the-counter medicines and creams
- Prescription medicines and creams
Redness and Irritation
Witch Hazel, a member of the family, Hamamelidaceae, is the most popular natural treatment for bug bites. It works well without leaving strange smells behind. A lot of people use it as a skin toner as a part of their beauty regime, so you might already have some.
Consumers much be aware that the witch hazel astringent found in the drugstore (the stuff used for removing makeup and as a facial cleanser), does not contain a decent dose of the active ingredient. If your using witch hazel to treat bed bugs, you need one with a concentrated amount of the main ingredient.
The active ingredient in witch hazel is tannin. That is what causes cessation of itching and redness. Witch hazel is an ingredient in hemorrhoid products and some hydrocortisone products. True witch hazel, the type with high levels of tannin, kills the pain and shrinks tissue. This is why it is one of the best natural treatments for bug bites.
I know this suggestion sounds odd, and of course consult your doctor, but some people like to buy hemorrhoids pads and wipe the affected area to stop itching. Alternatively, you can get the liquid and make your own pads by soaking pads in witch hazel and then sealing them in ziplock baggies.
Baking Soda Paste, Juniper Berries, Aloe Vera
The following section covers these natural treatments for bug bites:
- Baking Soda
- Juniper Berries and Cloves
- Aloe Vera
Some bugs inject an anticoagulant when they bite you. This is especially true in cases of blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes and bed bugs. Be extra sure to clean these bite with soap and water before applying treatment.
Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda is a mineral. Its medicinal use is well documented, including as an anti-itch medicine. It is the cheapest natural treatment for bites.
Use 1 tsp of water for every 3 tsp of baking soda. Apply this to the skin, let it dry, or use it as a compress.
Aloe Vera is a plant that helps with everything from athlete’s foot to sunburns. Mother nature gifted humanity when she created this plant.
You can get aloe from almost any store, however, using aloe fresh from the plant is a great way to harness the anti-itch properties. It is commonly used to treat all types of bug bites, even those of spiders and fleas.
You can get the plant from most Home & Garden centers. Thankfully, this is a versatile indoor-outdoor plant. It grows fast enough to provide as much aloe as you need. Of course, most people chose to buy prepared aloe.
If you use aloe from a store, simple massage an ample amount of the bug bite after you wash it and let it dry. To use aloe straight from the plant, snap off a portion of the plant. You can squeeze it in an upward motion towards the base where it was snapped from the plant. A clear, gooey liquid will ooze out. Apply this directly to the wound.
You can also make a small incision down the edge of an aloe leaf, and open the plant. You can then apply it directly to the skin. If you are allergic to aloe, chose another method.
Juniper Berries and Cloves
*Not For Pregnant Women
Juniper Berries and cloves are old world natural treatments for rashes, and also happen to work on the bite of most bugs.
These berries are dark purple and are a member of the family Cupressaceae. They contain copious amounts of vitamin C, and the byproduct is regarded as an oil. Not only do the oils reduce itching, vitamin C can actually be taken to help fortify the immune response. Cloves, like basil, contains eugenol, which also helps numb skin irritation.
A great recipe for an all natural anti-itch salve you can use comes from the Farmer's Almanac.
Melt two tablespoons of beeswax in a saucepan, add about 1/3 cup unsalted butter, 1/3 cup ground juniper berries, and a tablespoon of ground cloves and stir. Allow the salve to cool before applying to itchy skin.
Mint and Other Members of Lamiaceae
Lamiaceae is a family of plants that naturalists use for thousands of medicinal purposes. They are perfect for reducing swelling, redness, and irritation from bug bites.
Each member of this family has specialized properties, each one working to heal multiple types of skin irritation. These special plants are mint, basil, lavender and a few others.
Menthol is the active ingredient in mint. It is a remedy for a number of illnesses, such as upset stomach and inflammation.
Having your own mint plant is optimal, but most drug stores sell peppermint oil for under $7 a bottle.
Having your own plant is best because you can also use leaves to make tea. The expense of mint turns some people off. Growing your own plant is far more economical.
When most people think about basil, they think about the little jar of it on the spice rack. It is widely used to make foods spicier, but can also be used to cure itching.
Basil is more amazing than most people realize. It contains a substance called Eugenol. It's a painkiller that numbs the nerves. It is also an analgesic and antiseptic.
It is so good at what it does that it is used in dental work. If it can stop the dental pain, it will certainly work to help stop bug bite itching.
To use basil as a natural remedy either use basil essential oil or make a paste with dried basil leaves. If you use the essential oil, dab it onto a cotton ball and then apply to the wound.
To make your own basil paste you can add basil to a baking soda paste mixture or dampen the basil and apply a compress.
Cinnamon and Honey
You probably have cinnamon and honey in your kitchen. They are much more than popular food items. Both have unique properties, which make them a perfect mix for treating bug bites. Honey is quite amazing and can help relieve, prevent, and even cure allergic reactions of all kinds. When you get honey, you should always make sure that it came from a local honey farm.
Bees make this miraculous nectar from local pollen, which means that not all honey is the same. To get protection from local allergies, you need to use local honey. Honey does many things when it comes to curing skin irritation. First, it moisturizes the skin, reducing the chance that the area will become dry, crack and turn into an open sore that could get infected.
Honey is also known to work with the body, helping it to heal itself faster. Using honey helps reduce redness and swelling, and reduces the length of time it will be visible.
These are just a few of many reasons you should use honey in this mixture. There are two main reasons that cinnamon and honey make one of the best bug bite treatment. One reason is that you want to mix a dry item and a wet item to make a paste which will dry on the skin. Honey is the wet item, and cinnamon is the dry item.
An even more important reason to use cinnamon is that it is known to be a prostaglandin inhibitor. Prostaglandin inhibitors reduce inflammation, soothe itchiness, and alleviate pain.
Lavender is an interesting natural remedy for bug bites. It treats itching but doesn't leave an odd smell. Symbolically it is also said to ward off bugs and evil.
It immediately stops the itch, plus many people claim that taking a lavender bath before you go to sleep is claimed to ward off some bugs, like fleas and bed bugs, through the night.
Take a warm lavender bath.
Some suggest using a mixture of juniper berries and lavender oil in your bath to increase the healing powers of lavender.
Ayurvedic Home Remedies
A more traditional way to treat itchy bites and rashes, is with over-the-counter creams. There are tons on the market, and you may already have a favorite. Out of the entire over the counter creams, my favorite is Maximum Strength Cortisone.
Cortisone is one of many hydrocortisone products. You can find a full list of them at Mayoclinic.com. These products work by inhibiting the natural inflammatory response.
- Wash rash
- Dry rash completely
- Apply cream to rash
The benefit of using cortisone over other products is how quickly it reduces redness. This product is also prescribed by doctors. The con is that it is not considered to be a natural treatment, which turns some people away.
Medical Care for Bug Bites
Consult a doctor if you cannot positively identify your bite rash and it seems serious. Due to the nature of rash diseases, it is vital to rule out other causes of the rash, especially in children. It might not be a bite at all.
Once a rash is identified, your doctor will probably not have you come every time something bites you. However, if the itching is intense, you may wish to go to the doctor to get prescription creams or a shot to reduce the allergic reaction.
Preventing itching is important because scratching the bite can open it up, which can lead to an infection. If the bite does open, it is a sign you need to go to the doctor to get something to help stop the itch.
You may also be given antibiotics if there is a worry about infection. Most bug bites do not cause fevers. Any rash accompanied by a fever needs to be treated by a doctor. If the rash causes a fever, you may need to address the possibility of a poisonous spider bite.
Ph. D., Martini, Frederic and Judi L. Nath, Ph. D. Anatomy & Physiology 2nd Ed. San Francisco: Pearson. 2012. Print.
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.
© 2012 Melody Collins
Elena from London, UK on June 04, 2013:
Very interesting and useful read. How many years do you think people should keep Mattresses? For Kids and For Adults. It's probably the best way to avoid these bugs.
website-redesign from califronia on July 03, 2012:
hmm this is one of those articles i don't need now but will hit the bookmark pile for when i do need it :)
Dianna Mendez on June 30, 2012:
You have listed some really good natural remedies here for easing the itching from bedbug bites. I have tried aloe vera for burns and cuts and it does work miracles. Baking soda is so useful for so many other ailments, including bedbug bites. Well done and voted way up!
CCahill from England on June 29, 2012:
Great Hub, by the looks of the pics im glad to say i don't have them but i hope this may be of use to anybody that does