Essential Oils for Bug Bites
For those who spend time outdoors, insect bites may be a common occurrence. Bites from various bugs often happen before a person has noticed the presence of the insect, and bites frequently show up as inflamed, red, and itchy skin.
While some bug bites need to be treated by medical professionals, most can be treated at home.
Some people are happy to use over the counter products to treat bug bites, but many may wish to avoid harsh chemical ingredients and steroids that are traditionally used in traditional products.
For those wondering how to treat bug bites, how to reduce bug bite swelling, and how to stop bug bites from itching without resorting to using harsh ingredients, essential oils offer a promising solution.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
The benefits of lemongrass essential oil include anti-microbial and inti-inflammatory properties. This oil may help prevent infection of bites by stopping the spread of bacteria.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil has also been reported to significantly reduce itching, therefore, help lessen scratching and speed up healing time.5 Peppermint essential oil is well-known for its cooling and soothing effects when applied topically and its potent aroma may even help deter bugs.
Basil Essential Oil
One valuable quality of basil essential oil is its natural antimicrobial activity, which is useful for treating bug bites and may help prevent bacterial growth at the site of the wound.
Basil essential oil has been shown to demonstrate natural insecticidal and antioxidant activity that may help the skin heal and reduce the risk of further bites.13
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil’s beneficial properties include anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, wound healing and antibacterial properties.2 When applied topically, tea tree essential oil may help stop scratching, reduce swelling, and minimize the spread of bacteria.
Lavender Essential Oil
The therapeutic benefits of lavender essential oil originate from its analgesic activity. This makes lavender an excellent essential oil for managing stinging bug bites and helping calm the individual.
The following information expands on the best essential oil for bug bites. Read on to learn how essential oils can help reduce itching, swelling, and encourage healing of bug bites.
Essential Oils for Mosquito Bites
Mosquitoes are flying insects with long, thin bodies that emerge at night or during the morning to suck blood from people and animals.1 For those who visit the outdoors frequently, mosquito bites, accompanied by mosquito bite swelling and itching, may be common.
After being bitten, people may wonder what to put on mosquito bites and how to make the mosquito bites stop itching. While there are various home remedies for mosquito bites, one effective solution is to use tea tree oil for mosquito bites.
Tea tree is an excellent essential oil for mosquito bites because of its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching properties.
For example, tea tree essential oil is reported to kill several different strains of bacteria, including drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and may help wounds stay clean.2
Tea tree oil is also proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and it has been successfully used on humans and animals to reduce itching.2 By using this essential oil, mosquito bite symptoms can be managed effectively.
Essential Oils for Spider Bites
Spiders are eight-legged arachnids that often inject venom into their prey.3 When a person is bitten by a spider, it can result in itching, pain, and redness.
While some spider bites require immediate medical attention (such as bites from a brown recluse or black widow), others are not serious and can be treated at home with essential oils. To treat spider bites at home, lavender and tea tree essential oils are considered the most effective natural remedies.
Lavender essential oil has a calming effect and has been observed to have pain-reducing properties, making it a good treatment for spider bites.
One study reported reduced pain in ICU patients who were massaged with lavender essential oil, while another study observed the effective pain-reducing properties of lavender essential oil in patients with canker sores.4
Due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree essential oil is another good choice for treating spider bites. After using tea tree oil, spider bites should be less itchy and have a smaller risk of becoming infected.
Essential Oils for Fire Ant Bites
Fire ants are small red or yellow insects native to tropical areas of the world. These ants, which have also been introduced to North America, have a very painful bite.6
When fire ants bite, they create red, painful, itchy bumps on the skin which fill with pus in the following days.7 After being bitten by fire ants, individuals will likely want to know how to make ant bites stop itching. Fortunately, several essential oils can provide relief.
To treat fire ant bites, lavender, tea tree, and peppermint essential oil are excellent choices.
Lavender essential oil will help reduce ant bites’ stinging with its pain-relieving properties, while tea tree oil helps minimize itching and helps keep bites from becoming infected.
Peppermint essential oil may also be helpful in reducing itching of fire ants. In a study of pregnant women suffering from pruritus (a condition that causes extremely itchy skin), peppermint essential oil was observed to reduce itching significantly.5
Essential Oils for Tick Bites
Ticks are small brown insects with a hard exoskeleton. They most often live in fields and forests, and they feed on the blood of people and animals.8
Often, a person may notice that he or she has a tick bite because the tick is still attached to the skin. After safely removing the tick, the site of a tick bite will often be red and can then be treated with essential oils.
To treat tick bites, use tea tree and lemongrass essential oil. Tea tree essential oil’s antibacterial properties make it a good choice for treating tick bites, which are known for carrying harmful pathogens and viruses. While tea tree essential oil will not treat serious diseases carried by ticks, it can help disinfect the site of the wound and reduce the chance of infection.
Lemongrass is also known for its antimicrobial properties and can help keep the bite clean. One study observed lemongrass oil’s ability to kill the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii very effectively.11
Essential Oils for Bed Bug Bites
Bed bugs are small, flat, brown insects that come out at night and feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals and humans.9 Bed bug bites are often not noticed immediately, but within a few days the bite will appear and may be red and itchy.10
One bug bite remedy is to use tea tree essential oil and lemongrass essential oil on the bite. These oils speed up healing because the tea tree oil helps reduce itching and infection, while lemongrass essential oil keeps the bite clean and discourages bacterial growth.
Essential Oil for Bee Sting
Bees are flying insects that collect pollen and nectar from flowers.11 While most bees will not sting humans if they are left alone, they may sting if they feel threatened.13
Bee stings present as red, stinging, itchy bumps.13While some people are allergic to bee stings and need immediate medical attention, most bee stings can be treated at home.
One great oil for treating bee stings is basil essential oil. Basil essential oil has antibacterial properties against microorganisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Aspergillus fumigatus, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Penicillium chrysogenum, and Aspergillus niger.12 By using this oil on bee stings, the chance of infection is reduced.
Lavender and tea tree essential oil are also excellent choices to relieve pain and itching of bee stings.
How to Stop Bug Bites from Itching
One effective essential oil for itchy bug bites is peppermint. Peppermint essential oil has been observed to reduce itching on skin significantly, and may also be able to lessen itchiness in bug bites. Additionally, tea tree essential oil may be used as an effective itch-relieving essential oil.
To use these oils to reduce bug-bite itching, combine 4 drops of the essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of a carrier oil, such as olive oil or jojoba oil. After mixing the oils well, apply the combined oils directly to the itchy area. Re-apply the oils to the bite as necessary until itching subsides.
How to Reduce Bug Bite Swelling
Some may wonder what essential oil is good for bug bites that swell. One excellent essential oil for bug bites that become red and puffy is tea tree essential oil. Tea tree essential oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling as well as protect against infection.
To use tea tree oil to reduce swelling bug bites, add 4 drops of essential oil to 1 cup of cool water in a bowl. Dip a clean cloth in the mixture and gently apply on the affected area to reduce swelling. Hold the cloth on the site until it is room temperature. Repeat as necessary until the bite ceases swelling.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- World Health Organization. (n.d.). Mosquitoes and Other Biting Diptera [PDF]. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resources/vector007to28.pdf
- Jackson, T., Carson, C. F., Peterson, G. M., Walton, S. F., Hammer, K. A., Naunton, M., & Baby, K. E. (2016). Therapeutic Potential of Tea Tree Oil for Scabies. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,94(2), 258-266. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.14-0515
- Culin, J., & Levi, H. W. (2016, May 13). Spider. In Encylopaedia Britannica. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/spider-arachnid – View reference
- Koulivand, P. H., Ghadiri, M. K., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2013, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2013/681304
- Amjadi, M., Mojab, F., & Kamranpour, S. (2012). The Effect of Peppermint Oil on Symptomatic Treatment of Pruritus in Pregnant Women. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research,11(4), 1073-1077. Retrieved May 2, 2017, from http://pubmedcentralcanada.ca/pmcc/articles/PMC3813175/
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2014, September 17). Fire ant. In Encylopaedia Britannica. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/fire-ant – View reference
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, July 01). Insects and Scorpions. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/insects/fireants.html – View reference
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2016, September 02). Tick. In Encylopaedia Britannica. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/tick – View reference
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017, March 24). Bedbug. In Encylopaedia Britannica. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/bedbug – View reference
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, January 06). Bed Bugs FAQs. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html – View reference
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2015, December 3). Bee. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/animal/bee – View reference
- Joshi, R. (2014). Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Ocimum basilicum L. (sweet basil) from Western Ghats of North West Karnataka, India. Ancient Science of Life,33(3), 149. doi:10.4103/0257-7941.144618
- Johnson, S. B., & Cyr, D. L. (n.d.). First Aid for Bee and Insect Stings. Retrieved May 02, 2017, from http://nasdonline.org/959/d000800/first-aid-for-bee-and-insect-stings.html – View reference