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Insect bites are a common yet annoying problem that comes with summer, and kids are particularly prone to developing rashes and allergies from insect bites.
Thankfully, there are several home remedies and DIY treatments you can do to treat these itchy bumps. (1)
Home Remedies to Treat Insect Bites
There are several topical medications to soothe insect bites. However, while some calamine lotion may help cure the itch sooner, sometimes you just do not have any at hand.
Here are a few simple home remedies you can try to get rid of the inflammation and itch from an insect bite:
1. Dab on some honey
Honey contains potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the skin and also protect against infections. Drizzling a couple drops of honey on the irritated skin can help provide relief. (2)
2. Apply tea tree oil
You can dab a little bit of tea tree oil directly on the insect bite using a cotton ball or swab.
3. Take a colloidal oatmeal bath
Colloidal oatmeal baths are an innovative and easy way to soothe the skin and relieve skin irritation.
Oatmeal contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that coat the skin and prevent itching. Oatmeal baths have been proven to significantly decrease skin itching in children suffering from inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis.
You can add 3 tablespoons of ground oatmeal powder to a bathtub and soak in it for half an hour every day. (5)
4. Apply a cold compress on the affected area
Cold compresses are the easiest go-to remedy for any kind of skin condition. The coolness of the ice helps numb the skin and provides temporary relief from the insect bite.
You can apply an ice pack to the affected area or simply place an ice cube on it for 5–10 minutes.
5. Apply aloe vera
Aloe vera is an age-old remedy for various skin issues. It helps relieve itching, moisturizes the skin, prevents acne, heals skin inflammation and infections, etc. Aloe vera can soothe insect bites and reduce skin irritation.
You can apply aloe vera gel directly to the insect bite. Let it dry for 10 minutes before rinsing off with cool water. (6)
6. Use witch hazel
Witch hazel has soothing and wound healing qualities. It helps provide relief from skin itching and burning due to insect bites.
You can apply witch hazel oil directly to the affected area. (7)
7. Give Indian lilac (neem) oil a try
Indian lilac, or neem, is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for skin inflammation and irritation. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can soothe the skin and promote healing.
Various studies have proven the efficiency of neem oil and neem leaves in improving skin diseases and infections. (8)
You can apply neem oil directly to the insect bite. Alternatively, you can grind fresh neem leaves and apply them to the affected area.
8. Use chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is a widely used remedy for skin inflammation and irritation. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe the body and relieve stress.
You can apply cooled chamomile tea to the insect bite using a clean cotton cloth. Alternatively, you can apply a used chamomile tea bag to the area. (9)
9. Apply crushed plantain leaves
Plantain leaves help provide relief from insect bites and stings. These leaves contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve the itch and irritation.
Plantain leaves can be crushed and applied directly to the itch. (6)
10. Use basil leaves
Basil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It contains camphor and thymol – two compounds known for their soothing properties. It can help provide relief from skin irritation and itching.
You can grind a few basil leaves and apply them directly to the affected area. Let it dry for 15 minutes before rinsing off. (10)
Prevention of Insect Bites
Here are a few ways to prevent insect bites:
- Use insect repellent. Safe, government-approved insect repellants (such as DEET at <30% concentration) can be used to reduce insect bites if you live in insect-populated areas. Do not use insect repellants on infants younger than 6 months old.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Make sure to wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants to cover as much skin as possible if you are prone to insect bites.
- Use bed nets. A bed net can help keep mosquitoes at bay while you sleep. It can be especially useful when camping outside.
- Pay attention to insect outbreaks near you.
- Do not wear strong perfumes or scents that can attract insects.
- Make sure your kids wear shoes while playing outside.
- Do not let any water near your home get stagnant as it may become a breeding spot for mosquitoes (such as buckets and flower pots).
When to See a Doctor
Consult your doctor if you have been bitten by an insect and observe any of the following symptoms in the next few days:
- Fever and chills
- Severe itching and inflammation
- Body aches
Note: Some people can have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) to insect bites and need to be taken to the hospital immediately. Symptoms of anaphylactic shock are difficulty breathing, severe swelling, etc.
Most-Asked Questions About Insect Bites
Does baking soda help to treat insect bites?
Yes. Baking soda can be dusted on the insect bite as it can help relieve inflammation.
What’s the best cream for insect bites?
Hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion are both widely used over-the-counter treatments for insect bites.
Insect bites are mostly harmless (albeit itchy) and usually resolve on their own. Trying the home remedies given above can help provide relief from the skin irritation and itching caused by them. However, in rare cases, mosquito bites can spread diseases such as malaria, Zika virus, etc.
It is advisable to take precautions against mosquito bites in the summer, and if you have been bitten, watch out for signs of infections.