Useful Essential Oils
Which essential oils are effective for repelling insects and healing bites?
As explained in the video, the following products have traditionally been used for bug bites, ant bites and bites from other insects:
To repel bugs:
Eucalyptus Citriodora Essential Oil, Citronella Essential Oil, Lemongrass Essential Oil, Catnip Essential Oil, Peppermint (repels ants), Vanilla Essential Oil (for gnats). Diffuse any of these essential oils to repel bugs or to use on your skin, dilute them 1-2% in any carrier oil (5-10 drops per tablespoon).
Most of these oils are included in Bugs BeGone.
Anti-inflammatory oils like Helichrysum, German Chamomile, Lavender. Add a few drops of the essential oil to a sink full of water and use this water to cleanse the skin around the bite or put 10 drops of the essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil like jojoba or hazelnut oil and apply to the skin.
This video is by the founder of Amrita Aromatherapy and master aromatherapist Christoph Streicher, Ph.D.
Not to treat the snake bite but to recover from the shock of it – Stress Free Roll-On Relief and/or Anxiety Free Roll-On Relief may help to temporarily relieve shock symptoms (you can try using these for other shocks too).
For temporary relief from muscle spasms, you may like to try:
If caused by cramping which is often part of asthma – Roman Chamomile Essential Oil – Dilute to 5-10% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (25-50 drops per tablespoon) and apply to the affected area. In the case of an asthma attack, massage on the chest and back.
If caused by overuse – Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil – Dilute up to 5% in jojoba or hazelnut oil (25 drops per tablespoon) and rub on affected areas or dilute and use in an aromatic bath.
About the Condition
What are bug bites?
Bites can be caused by mosquitoes and other bugs. The bites tend to be become itchy and irritating.
Female mosquitoes bite us in order to develop their eggs. Mosquitoes can also sometimes carry potentially fatal diseases such as dengue fever or West Nile Virus. Chiggers are a type of mite and they inject digestive enzymes into our skin to destroy it and then feed upon this destroyed tissue. Ticks bite us because they need to eat blood. They can carry serious diseases like Lyme disease.
What are conventional ways to repel bugs?
The primary chemical in most repellants is between 10% and 30% of DEET (sometimes more). Some contain other chemicals like Picaridin. The long term effects of using these chemicals is yet to be determined, but preliminary studies on DEET have shown that it causes behavioral changes and the death of brain neurons in rats after frequent and prolonged use. It appears to mainly affect the neurons that control muscle movement, concentration, learning and memory which in turn reduces their ability to perform tasks.
There are similar reports of people exposed to large amounts of DEET during the Persian Gulf War experiencing symptoms like memory loss, headaches, weakness and muscle pain.
We do not know if there are any negative interactions from using DEET (and other chemicals) in addition to prescribed medications. Some people may be more susceptible to the negative effects of these sorts of chemicals than others.
What are alternative ways to repel bugs?
You can prevent mosquitoes and other larvae from breeding by ensuring your yard does not contain anything that can trap water such as bird baths, clogged gutters, open rain barrels and pot plants with dishes beneath them.
Research has shown that soybean oil-based mosquito repellents and essential oils like citronella, cedar, peppermint, lemongrass, and geranium do appear to provide some protection, however, they often need to re-applied more frequently than chemical repellents.
Research has also shown that lemon eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus Citriodora) seems to provide longer lasting protection similar to low concentrations of DEET and it is safe for children older than 3 years. Eucalyptus citriodora is effective against mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The chemical compounds called nepetalactones present in Catnip Essential Oil are said to be effective at repelling mosquitoes. Some research studies have shown that nepelactones are ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
Peppermint Essential Oil has also traditionally been used to repel ants and Vanilla Essential Oil has been used to repel gnats and Citronella has been used to repel some insects and to kill head lice when applied to the scalp.
See the Useful Essential Oils tab for more information on using essential oils to repel bugs.
What are conventional medical treatments for bug bites?
Bites and stings generally don’t require medical attention as they will heal on their own. But if you are bitten by a snake, scorpion or a spider that you suspect to be dangerous, always seek immediate medical help.
For mosquito bites, hydrocortisone creams or calamine lotion can be applied. Sometimes a cold pack or baggie filled with crushed ice can be used. When a person has a stronger reaction, sometimes oral antihistamines are prescribed.
For most spider bites, including black widow and brown recluse spider bites, it is recommended that you clean the bite with mild soap and water, apply cold packs and if the bite is on an extremity such as an arm or leg, to keep it elevated. Pain relievers can be taken if needed. However, if any sign of infection becomes present further medical treatment such as antibiotics may be necessary. Sometimes doctors may also recommend a tetanus booster shot if you haven't had one in the last five years. However, if you are bitten by a black widow spider, and the bite is causing intractable pain or life-threatening symptoms, seek medical attention as your doctor may inject anti-venom into a thigh muscle or give it intravenously.
Note: Some people may have severe reactions to bites and need to seek urgent medical attention. In the emergency department, they may be given epinephrine (subcutaneous); diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and steroids (drugs in the cortisone family) intravenously. In severe cases oxygen is also given, and a heart monitor is connected.
If you have severe reactions to bites, you may be given an emergency kit to use in case of future stings. This kit generally contains an epinephrine injector, a tourniquet, and an antihistamine.
Your doctor may refer you to an allergist for desensitization therapy. This is usually effective in preventing a severe reaction to future stings.
If you suspect you may have contracted a pathogenic organisms (e.g. Lyme disease, malaria, West Nile virus, typhus etc), tell your doctor so that a diagnosis can be made.
What are alternative treatments for bites?
Remain as calm as you can to stop the spread of chemicals throughout your body and if the sting is on your arm or leg, keep it lowered. Calming, stress or anxiety reducing essential oils may help to temporarily alleviate any shock symptoms. However, if swelling is present a few hours later, you should elevate it to reduce swelling.
For puss caterpillar stings, use cellophane tape or face peel to remove any broken-off spines and for bee stings, remove the stinger.
Of course, essential oils traditionally have also been used for bug bites. For more information, see the Useful Essential Oils tab.