Natural Bug Bite Remedies and OTC Medications

Using natural bug bite remedies and OTC medications are a good way to save your skin and stop scratching! The constant itching is more than a mild annoyance for many people, including me! Unfortunately scratching an active bite is probably the worst thing you can do since it only inflames the area around the area even more - which only causes more scratching! Oh, the pain of it all!

Mosquito Landing on Skin and Sucking Blood
mosquito landing and sucking blood image

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The reaction your body has to bug bites varies from person to person. It’s obvious that most bugs are attracted to some people’s scents more than others. (Figures, right?) The lucky people who rarely get devoured by bugs give off a smell that bugs can’t recognize so they simply don’t get bitten as much.

Sections on This Page

Why Do Bug Bites Itch?

Why You Can't Feel Bites

How to Prepare the Skin

Remedies for Bites

Why Do Bug Bites Itch?

Most insects are after one thing! Your blood! It’s a viable source of protein for females who are about to lay their eggs. Besides drinking your blood, the female also injects a small amount of her saliva into the bite. It is the protein in her saliva that causes your body to have an allergic response. To get rid of the bug’s protein, your body’s immunity system sends histamines to the area, which provokes an inflammatory response in the cells until it can clear them away or until you use enough products to dry them up.

Scratching Skin image

Why Can’t You Feel It when They’re Biting You?

When any insect bites you and starts feeding off your blood, the saliva they inject into your skin has a mild anesthetic effect, which means they temporarily numb your skin. They are kinda like secret agents until your body reacts to the bite… and zing! You notice and start swatting like mad!

Bug repellents work by masking the [attractive] body odor that insects like. Some repellents are natural plant based and some use chemicals. No bug repellent works for all types of bugs. Deer fly and chiggers are especially immune to bug repellents for example.

Getting one bite is NOT a big deal but getting many bug bites at once can take itching to a whole new level. You need to find ways fast to stop the eternal itching before you scratch off your skin and leave it scarred.

There are so many different kinds of insect bites you can get; mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, bed bugs, house flies, deer flies, bee stings, etc. However, no matter what type of bug bites you, the result is eerily familiar. The area gets red, swells, and then the itching and scratching ensue. In fact, scratching is the real danger when you get bitten because it can lead to an infection. That’s why you need to use bug bite remedies to help stop the itching, so you’ll stop scratching at them! Here are some guidelines to follow before using bug bite remedies:

chigger bugs and bites
Chigger Bug and Bites on Ankles

How to Prepare Bug Bite Areas Before Treatment

  • Before applying bug bite remedies, wash the area with soap and warm water first. This should stop itching pretty quickly.

  • Gently pat the areas dry after showering. You don’t want to rub your towel over bite areas too much, which will only lead to itching more.

  • Use an antiseptic if you have one on hand.

  • Your skin is now ready to try a couple of bug bite remedies!

    mustard oil image
    Mustard Oil - Used as an analgesic

    Bug Bite Remedies and Treatments

    Whatever bug bite remedies you try, if the area itches more after you’ve applied it, wash the area immediately and try again. Not every remedy is appropriate for every person for every bug bite. This is because all have different chemistry's and different itch thresholds and tolerances.

  • Mustard oil is downright stinky but it’s commonly used to treat mosquito bites in many Asian countries.

  • Placing cold cucumber slices on bug bites can help soothe the skin, or just use regular ice cubes or gel ice packs to help reduce swelling and to numb the area.

  • Baking soda is an old ‘go to’ that many old timers have used in the past. Make a paste of baking soda and a tad of water and apply to itchy bites.

  • Honey is an antimicrobial, which means that it kills germs. Apply honey to bug bites to prevent bacteria from entering the wound and promote healing.

  • Use aspirin to soothe and numb the area. Use a mortar and pestle to crush up a plain aspirin. Mix with a small amount of water to make a paste. Apply to the area for an analgesic effect

  • Apply Scotch tape, Elmer’s glue, or clear nail polish to each bite to deter you from scratching as much. All of these bug bite remedies block air from hitting the skin. The air itself can make insect bites itch more so its pretty sensible to try.

  • Try some aloe vera gel with lidocaine to help relieve itching and calm bites. Keep the bottle in your refrigerator for the cool appeal. (Find out what else this cold gel also works on here!)

  • Tea tree oil, castor oil, and lavender oil are natural bug bite remedies that can soothe and stop itching. Each one works in slightly different ways but all are relatively effective.

  • Try using garlic. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the garlic juice on each bite area. Garlic is also antimicrobial so it effectively helps kills germs on the skin.

  • Lime juice or lemon juice can sting a little but if you’re in a pinch and can’t find anything else to use, try using either/or.

  • Sudsy ammonia works especially well on fire ant bites and some people find relief using them on other types of bug bites as well.

  • If you notice a few chigger bites, (they love moist and warm areas like the waist, back of knee, elbow joint, ankles) there could be more chiggers lurking on your skin. Washing/brushing them off is KEY to treatment. When I've been out in the woods where there's lots of pine straw, I take a shower when I get home and use lots of shower gel or soap. This will make remaining chiggers slip off your skin and down the drain. (BTW, it’s NOT TRUE that chiggers burrow under your skin.)

    If you don't get them off, chiggers will attach to the skin then inject a digestive fluid into it. This breaks down the tissue and creates a tube through which it feeds on liquefied skin. (They can wait hours before they find a good spot to attach to.) Once they're rinsed/brushed off your body they die but the lingering effects of their feeding tube in your skin is what makes the area itch so badly. Chigger bites are by far the itchiest of them all IMHO.

  • Listerine is an antiseptic that can help alleviate itching and kill bacteria.

  • Vicks Vapor Rub contains camphor which can help soothe the area by numbing it slightly.

  • You can relieve swelling and itchiness by using a hemorrhoid cream like Preparation H-Cooling Gel.

  • Calamine lotion is one of my favorite bug bite remedies. It has drying action plus an anti-itch ingredient. Apply to areas and allow to dry thoroughly.

  • Cortisone cream also works wonders, especially on mosquito bites or flea bites. Cortisone blocks the histamine action of the bite. It can take up to ten minutes before you stop itching though so be aware of that.

  • Benedryl cream blocks the histamine effect of bug bites and makes them itch a lot less. You can also drink Benedryl liquid to help reduce the histamine effect. In fact, last year I got stung over 20 times in a matter of seconds. Find out how I treated the area here.

  • Witch hazel and rubbing alcohol are very soothing to bug bites and can help squelch the desire to scratch more.

  • Hot water is another way to alleviate the itches. Heat up a mug of water till its very hot and place a metal teaspoon in the water. Apply the back of the hot spoon to the bite. You will feel it ‘zapping’ the area. If it’s too hot, you can burn your skin. If its not hot enough, you’ll only make the area itch more. (Because you can burn your skin, this is my least favorite remedy...)

  • Apple cider vinegar is used as a treatment for so many skin problems and its appropriate for some bug bites too. Saturate a cotton ball with the vinegar and apply to bites.

  • Plain toothpaste without fluoride is a remedy that I was taught in the Girl Scouts. Works wonders if you can find regular toothpaste without fluoride. Good luck nowadays, right?

  • Urine is another remedy you can use if you’re out in the woods without any other remedies or medications around. May sound gross but it works by changing the pH of the skin.

  • Iodine tincture can be applied to insect bites to help kill bacteria. It’s especially useful if you’ve gotten an infection from scratching too much!

  • Old wives tales suggest using vitamin B1 because Thiamine helps protect your immune system. It is said that once in your system, it helps mask the scent your blood gives off that insects love. However so far, the few studies that have been done have proven B1 to be ineffective at blocking histamine. (I tried it with no success but it might be worth a shot for some people.)

    The only time you need to be concerned about the type of insect that bit you is when you think you might have bed bug bites. Most insects live outside your home but can be brought into the house undetected. Getting rid of fleas is far easier than bed bugs. If you suspect them, check your bed carefully by pulling off the sheets and peering closely. You must first acknowledge bugs before living areas should be treated.

    The best way to NOT have to deal with insect bites is to avoid them altogether. However, if you do wander out into the wild blue yonder, you’ll need to take some proactive protective measures.

    Use products that contain citronella, rosemary oil, or lemon eucalyptus oil before you go into the woods or areas that contain a lot of brush. Other preventative actions to take are wearing white or light colored long sleeves and pants and wear materials that are tightly knit. Tuck pants legs into socks or shoes to keep bugs from biting your ankles or climbing/flying/jumping up your pants legs.

    No one likes getting bitten by insects. They’re enough to make your skin crawl! Hopefully, with a few good bug bite remedies up your sleeve, you should be able to recover much faster and reduce the inflammation much quicker!

    Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

    Related Pages on This Site

    Treating Bee Stings at Home

    Why You Attract Mosquitoes More Than Other People

    Eating Bugs as Food – Could Insects be Your Next Major Source of Protein?

    5 Edible Weeds You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

    Fight the Flu Naturally – Smart Ways to Feel Better Faster!

    Sore Throat Pain Relief – Home Remedies and Concoctions

    Non GMO Foods Versus GMO Foods – Facts, Pros and Cons


    Natural Home Remedies for Mosquito Bites

    37 Home Remedies for Healing Bug Bites

    5 Natural Ways to Treat Itchy Insect Bites

    Chiggers Facts & Myths

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