If you’re like me, anything and everything that will bite humans, bites you. No matter what preventive measures are taken, we fall victim to biting insects. I’m always on the lookout for bug bite remedies, and have found over 25 that really work!
What Causes Reactions to Bites and Stings?
From barbs to venom, bites and stings from insects, can cause reactions anywhere from mild redness and discomfort; to hives and fever; and more seriously, anaphylactic shock.
When an insect bites, it releases saliva that can cause the skin around the bite to become red, swollen and itchy.
The venom injected into your body from the bite or sting of an insect will cause your immune system to respond. Often, your body’s immediate response will include redness and swelling at the site of the bite or sting.
Minor delayed reactions include itching and soreness.
While most bugs or insects don’t want to bite us, they are just acting out of self defense. Others want to turn us into human buffets!
What Gets Rid of Bug Bites Fast?
- The first thing you need to do is wash the area with cold water and soap.
- Second, lightly scrape the affected area with a credit card to remove any stinger that may have broken off in your skin.
- Apply an ice pack to the area to help reduce swelling.
- Use one of our 25 + bug bite remedies to reduce the symptoms and itching.
Over 25+ Bug Bite Remedies
# 1 Calamine Lotion
Calamine Lotion is the anti-itch medicine we’re all most familiar with. Growing up, one of the neighborhood kids always had pink patches on them, from either getting into a poison ivy patch or bug bites. Calamine Lotion has ingredients that are drying, these help pull the toxins out, and also includes anti-itching agents.
If you’re someone who likes to make your own products for a more natural alternative, DIY Natural shares their Calamine Lotion Recipe.
# 2 OTC Antihistamines
Any over-the-counter creams that contain hydrocortisone, or oral antihistamines, will help relieve bug bite reactions.
Some examples are
#3 OTC Bite Remedies
OTC (Over-the-counter) remedies are the perfect solution for fast relief to your bug bite problem, especially when you’re on the go. I generally carry one in my car, or on my person when we travel, especially if we’re going on a hike or to a park.
Some tried and true brands are
- Stop The Sting
- After Bite
#4 Bug Bite Heat Pen
This bug bite remedy is new to me, in fact, I’ve never heard of it, until I asked my group. A friend suggested a bug bite heat pen, and said it worked wonders for her family.
It is a non-chemical approach to treating bug bites and stings. Safe for pregnant women and children 2+ years old.
It works safely by applying concentrated heat through the ceramic contact surface. Please note: the heat can be surprising and intense for some, but only lasts 3 or 5 seconds. Temperatures will only reach 128° which is cooler than an average sauna or cup of coffee.
The one I ordered should be here this week and I’ll update this article with my personal testimony as soon as we try it.
#5 Octagon Soap
Octagon Soap is an old-timey bug bite remedy, that many of my friends swear by, as the best bug repellent and bite relief. Unfortunately, the company that produced it no longer makes it. The ones I found available online were all selling for over $100 per bar!! While, I’ll pretty much do anything to have relief from a bug bite, that’s a hefty price to pay to not itch!
If you find a bar of Octagon Soap anywhere at a reasonable price, give it a try and let me know what you think.
#6 Alcohol (isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol)
Commonly called rubbing alcohol, when you apply it to a bug bite, it offers a cooling effect, as it dries, which can offer relief.
How do you stop a bug bite from itching?
Do your best to not scratch the affected area. I know it’s difficult, but if you break the skin by scratching it, you can cause an open wound that is susceptible to bacteria and infection.
#7 X Marks the Spot
Did you ever mark an X on a bug bite? In all honesty, it works! Albeit for a short time, but it can offer some temporary relief from itching, while you’re waiting on one of our other bug bite remedies to kick in. Just use a fingernail (clean of course) and press an X into the bug bite.
What is a Natural Remedy for Bug Bites?
We go natural in our household, from necessity. We all have allergies, especially to synthetic ingredients: dyes and chemicals. Thankfully, mother nature offers a plethora of natural bug bite remedies for you to try.
#8 Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has natural antiseptic agents, as well as vitamins and minerals that help with the pain and swelling.
Place a small slice of fresh aloe in a ziplock bag, and put it in the refrigerator so it’s nice and cool when you need it. Remove the outer skin and apply to the bug bite.
#9 Apple Cider Vinegar
The acid in vinegar helps to neutralize the venom in bug bites, and offers natural relief. Mix with 50% water and 50% AVC, apply to a cotton ball and hold on the bug bite.
Arnica is an amazing herb used for sore muscles, sprains, and bruises. It reduces the pain and swelling associated with bug bites. Make sure to avoid applying arnica to any open wounds, as it can cause irritation.
#11 Baking Soda
Make a paste of baking soda and water, then apply to the bug bite, this can help neutralize the itch, and reduce swelling.
#12 Bentonite Clay
Bentonite Clay has the ability to absorb the bug bite toxins from the skin, and releases minerals to help the body heal.
To use, make a paste with equal amounts of bentonite clay and water. Add mixture to the bug bite and let dry. Once dry, remove with a cool, wet cloth.
Calendula oil is ideal for healing burns and insect bites. It’s a soothing herb and helps to reduce swelling.
You can make a Calendula Salve to keep in your medicine cabinet.
Chickweed can be used topically to offer a natural remedy for insect bites and stings. Like Plantain, chickweed can be found in many parts of North America growing wild. We live in zone 7b and have chickweed growing all over our yard from early spring to fall.
To use chickweed as a bug bite remedy, crush fresh leaves (flowers are fine as well) by mashing them in a bowl to release the oils. This will make a poultice. Apply the poultice to your bug bite and leave it on for several minutes.
Comfrey infused oil or fresh juice from leaves can be used topically for many skin conditions, including rashes, scrapes, and wounds. For bites and stings, it can soothe itching and irritation.
Crush the leaves and apply directly, or make a Comfrey Salve. Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment offers an easy Comfrey Salve Recipe to make.
#16 Guava Leaf
If you want to relieve itching caused by allergies, apply crushed guava leaves onto the affected areas. This method will also help you relieve insect bites.
Jewelweed was a lifesaver last year when we had a bout with a patch of poison ivy. Jewelweed leaves contain a compound called Lawsone – which has anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
To use, crush fresh leaves to release the juices and apply to the poultice to your bug bite. Leave on for several minutes.
Plantain is praised as a natural bug bite remedy, and a relief for skin irritations and rashes. It’s readily available in most parts of North America, and grows wild. Plantain is my go-to for bee stings as well.
To use, just crush the leaves to release the oils and place on the bug bite or sting. Hold in place for several minutes.
Most applications using lavender, as well as, Peppermint and Tea Tree, are applied with essential oils. It’s important when using any essential oil to mix it with a carrier oil, do not apply essential oils directly to the skin. Examples of carrier oils are coconut oil, almond oil, apricot oil, or olive oil.
Lavender oil helps reduce the pain, inflammation, itchiness from bug bites and stings.
Peppermint offers a cooling effect that helps relieve bug bites and stings. This also helps with the burning, stinging, and itching sensations caused by bites or stings. Research suggests peppermint oil may also act as an antimicrobial, reducing the risk of infection.
#21 Purple Dead Nettle
Purple Dead Nettle contains histamine and formic acid. As a result, they normally cause pain upon contact with human flesh. But, when they touch tissue that is already in pain, these chemicals act as a counterirritant, reducing discomfort. The juice of the stinging nettle is used to treat insect bites and, ironically, nettle stings.
#22 Raw Honey
Raw honey has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s also used in healing wounds and burns. It can reduce swelling, and help prevent infections caused by scratching.To use honey as a natural remedy for bug bites, apply a small amount of raw honey to the bite or sting for several minutes, then wipe off with a cool wet cloth .
#23 Tea Tree Oil
Recent studies have shown Tea Tree oil to be a natural antihistamine, which reduces effects from bites and stings. Other studies show that Tea Tree oil has been successful in reducing itching caused by bites.
To use Tea Tree Oil to treat bites and stings, mix with a carrier oil (see above) and apply to the affected area.
One of the oldest home remedies for treating bites and stings is a wad of tobacco. I remember my family emptying the contents of a cigarette into some water to make a patch for my latest stings. Thankfully, it never came out of someone’s mouth, but I’ve seen it done.
The use of tobacco for a variety of reasons, has been recorded since the early 1400’s. According to the National Library of Medicine, tobacco is not only useful for bites and stings, but a plethora of other ailments. All this time, I thought it was just folklore!
#25 Warm Spoon
Another old wives tale that has some science behind it is applying the back of a warm spoon to the bug bite or sting.
Another study by the National Library of Medicine shows that a locally administered concentration of heat reduced symptoms of bug bites and stings, within ten minutes.
3 More Bonus Bug Bite Remedies!
#26 Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel is an astringent that helps soothe inflamed skin. Witch hazel is also used to reduce inflammation and bruising.
To use Witch Hazel as a bug bite remedy, apply to a cotton ball and hold on the affected area for a couple of minutes.
Yarrow has been used since ancient times to stop bleeding during battles. Yarrow is antimicrobial, astringent, anodyne, and reduces inflammation. Not only is yarrow good as a bug bite remedy, but you can also use it to repel bugs from biting you in the first place.
Learning Herbs shares their Yarrow Natural Insect recipe.
#28 Does toothpaste help bug bites?
According to MedicineNet, toothpaste is an antimicrobial and antiseptic that aids in bug bite and sting relief. The mint in toothpaste offers a cooling effect as well.
To use toothpaste as a bug bite remedy, apply a small amount to the affected area and allow it to dry. If the toothpaste isn’t dry after ten minutes, remove with a cool damp cloth.
Insect Bites and Stings: First Aid
As I mentioned earlier, bug bites and stings are generally just a nuisance for most. However, they can cause serious problems, and should not be taken lightly.
If you experience a reaction from any bug bite or sting, other than slight discomfort, seek medical attention.
From the Mayo Clinic
When to seek emergency care
Call 911 or your local medical emergency number if a child is stung by a scorpion, or if anyone is having a serious reaction, that suggests anaphylaxis, even if it’s just one or two signs or symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling of the lips, face, eyelids or throat
- Dizziness, fainting or unconsciousness
- A weak and rapid pulse
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Take these actions immediately while waiting for medical help:
- Ask whether the injured person is carrying an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, others). Ask whether you should help inject the medication. This is usually done by pressing the autoinjector against the thigh and holding it in place for several seconds.
- Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket.
- Don’t offer anything to drink.
- If needed, position the person to prevent choking on vomit.
Many of the 25+ remedies for bug bites and stings work on chigger bites, as well as, other biting insects. However, if you’re prone to chigger bites, you’ll want to see our tips on how to avoid and treat them.
Unless you are a bug magnet no matter what you do, like me, maybe you want to avoid getting bit? Herbs and flowers are known for their bug repelling qualities. Not only do they repel biting insects, but they’re visually pleasing and provide multiple uses.
You can find out what herbs to plant in our article Plant a Mosquito Repelling Garden.
In addition to summer being the season of the bugs, it’s also a time where we tend to have a little too much fun in the sun. Nothing like trying to scratch a bug bite on burned skin! Try one of our 6 Natural Remedies for Sunburn so you can enjoy the outdoors again.