Here in So Cal we seem to be experiencing a particularly nasty insect season. The heavy rains which thankfully ended our six-year drought also brought with it an uptick in insect populations in general, along with my dreaded nemesis, mosquitoes. In addition to nature’s cause and effect, we have seen the spread of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, the ugly black-and-white striped beast which is known to be an aggressive day biter and known to potentially harbor dengue and Zika, among other things.
I have been getting bitten day and night, but then too the critters seem to be unusually attracted to me. I’m the person who, covered in picaridin and sitting next to a bug zapper, surrounded by citronella candles will somehow manage to get bitten. I’ve tried natural repellents, to no avail, so for me, it’s OFF! Deep Woods or risk a bite. Or two. Or twenty. And I have the misfortune of being allergic to insect bites. No anaphylaxis yet, thankfully, but severe swelling and redness. It has taken me to urgent care for steroid shots at home on multiple occasions and once when we were on vacation in Hawaii. Not how you want to spend a day in a tropical paradise. I’ll bathe in DEET, thank you.
My girls have unfortunately inherited my allergic tendencies, and with Sami especially being so young, and already on a daily medication, I’m hesitant to pump her full of other antihistamines and steroids just for a stinkin’ bite. On the other hand, we can’t have her swelling up or so uncomfortable that it’s hard for her to function. That’s where some more natural remedies come into play. These don’t take the place of antihistamines or prescribed medications, but they help to take the edge off the itch and help the healing process so that we don’t have to medicate as much. These are some of our favorite remedies:
Toothpaste: Specifically Trader Joe’s Peppermint Toothpaste with Baking Soda. This stuff is nasty-tasting for brushing teeth, but it really helped when Sami stepped on a bee stinger this summer. I’m venturing a guess here, but it could be the combination of baking soda and peppermint oil, both known home remedies for alleviating itches. For Sam, it took the edge off the sting and kept it from itching too badly.
Apple cider vinegar: Seriously, what can’t you use apple cider vinegar for? It’s a good detox and it tastes great in salad dressing. The acid helps to balance pH and help the itch. Just dilute it first before applying to the affected area with a cotton ball.
Lemon: Similar to apple cider vinegar, but with a delicious lemony scent. I found this one to help a bit. For me personally, it wasn’t as effective as the cider vinegar.
Ice: Like with any injury, ice helps to reduce swelling and inflammation. It also helps to numb the area a bit so you don’t feel the itching as much.
These are just a few home remedies that we have tried and have had some success with. Just a note, everyone is different, so please take this with a grain of salt (figuratively or literally- I found warm salt water can also help an itch). Again, these won’t take the place of medications, especially in more severe cases, so please listen to the guidance of your health care professional. But home remedies can be useful in bringing a measure of comfort.
What are some remedies that have helped you? Please share in the comments below. My bitten ankles are itching like crazy!