We are easing into summer and, like most years at this time, are more than ready for it. After a long hibernation through winter and the short, but sweet, vibrancy of spring, we’re ready to indulge in the ease and playfulness of the summer months. Along with its languorous tempo and warm weather, this time of year brings long days, social trips to nearby water spots, and succulent produce. In addition to the rewards of the year’s hot months come a few drawbacks, including sunburns, overheating, and a plethora of bugs. Even the most idyllic day at the lake can leave an unpleasant mark if a posse of mosquitoes sneaks in unnoticed around sunset, leaving a trail of bites before they are swatted away. To treat the effects of this summer annoyance, try out this herbal salve recipe.
While it’s best to avoid bug bites as much as possible, as they are not only pesky but can also carry disease, this remedy will help treat any bites that you don’t manage to escape. Try this salve recipe to help reduce the itchiness, swelling and redness associated with summer bug bites. Reducing the irritation will also help those of us with the bad habit of scratching excessively and tearing up our skin (which can lead to bigger problems, such as infection).
When a mosquito bites, its saliva causes an inflammatory reaction in the human body. The body sends histamine to counteract the inflammation. Together, these contribute to the itchiness we experience. Scratching the bite can actually increase the inflammation, making the situation worse. It can also break the skin and introduce dirt from fingernails and the outside environment, allowing further exposure to other contaminants, such as if you’ll be spending the rest of the day in a body of water that inevitably harbors some microbes. (Source)
Fortunately, there are effective, natural home remedies for treating the unpleasant effects of insect bites. This salve recipe is easy to follow and calls for basic ingredients that can be found at your local health food store. It can be stored in small, portable containers so you can take it with you to all your summertime events and keep a few stashed around the house. It’s the best thing for mosquito bites as well as any other painful or itchy bug bites (spiders, chiggers, fleas, etc.). Of course, consult your doctor if you have any unusual or concerning symptoms.
This recipe uses coconut oil and beeswax as the base for the salve. These oils do a great job of moisturizing the skin, which provides the right conditions for fast healing. Coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, and it creates a barrier that protects the bite from any external contaminants. The suggested herbs, calendula, chamomile, plantain and lavender, all specifically benefit the skin, promoting healing, reducing inflammation and providing anti-bacterial protection. This recipe suggests using lavender, tea tree and peppermint essential oils, as they are excellent skin healers, but other essential oils could be added or substituted if you have preferred favorites. (Source1) (Source2) (Source3)
Ingredients and Tools You Will Need:
A double boiler (a stainless-steel bowl in a pot of simmering water will suffice)
A clean container for your herb-infused coconut oil
A clean storage container, such as a glass jar, or a few lip balm tins or tubes for your salve
A wooden spoon or other stirring device
A fine strainer (cheese cloth, coffee filter, etc.)
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons of beeswax
¼ cup dried herbs: calendula, chamomile, plantain, and lavender are all good options and can be used in any ratio
10-15 drops of lavender essential oil
10-15 drops of peppermint and/or tea tree essential oils (or you can choose to add more lavender or another favorite essential oil)
Make sure all your equipment is as clean as possible, preferably sterile.
- Heat the coconut oil with the herbs in the double boiler on low for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot, stirring often.
- Once the herbs have infused into the oil, pour the mixture through your filter into a clean container. If you have excess herb-infused coconut oil, this makes a great, soothing skin moisturizer that can be used anytime or added to other recipes.
- Make sure there are no herbs remaining in your double boiler. Pour the herb-infused oil back into the double boiler, adding the beeswax. Heat again on low, stirring often.
- Once the beeswax has melted and the oils have combined, remove from the heat to stir in the essential oils. Pour the liquid into your container(s) before it cools completely.
This natural, easy-to-make salve will become one of your favorite home remedies for mosquitoes and other bugs this summer. Remember, prevention is the best option, so do your best to avoid any bites in the first place. This is not always easy while out enjoying summer’s treats. If you do get bit, use this salve to reduce the unpleasant effects and to expedite healing time.
Make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Some people have a ragweed allergy, which is a close relative of calendula and chamomile. It is always wise to dab the salve on a small test area of healthy skin before using liberally to make sure none of the ingredients act as irritants, especially when kids will be using it. This salve is meant primarily as a localized short-term treatment, but should be safe to use in generous amounts.