Natural Mosquito Repellents and Bite Relief

 

With spring being the start of the flying insect season I dread the appearance of mosquitos. Unfortunately they can’t seem to get enough of sucking my blood.

Mosquito bites are nasty little things and unfortunately I seem to react badly to them. I suspect this is due to my weak immune system caused by long term digestion problems. Reading many articles tells me that mosquito bites can effect the immune system for up to seven days.

The bites leave me with annoying itching that is impossible to ignore. They swell, look very red and angry, make my legs ache, and irritate my digestion problems further.

Therefore I’ve been avidly looking for herbal solutions and this post shares some ideas that I have found.

 

Natural Mosquito Repellents

1. Simple Rosemary Insect Repellent

 

I like to use something that is as natural and inexpensive as possible for my insect repellent.

Therefore I was happy to find a quick and easy suggestion thanks to the Mother Nature Network;

https://www.mnn.com/

All I needed to buy was;

  • A small plastic spray bottle (75p from Sainsburys)
  • A jar of dried rosemary (£1 from Sainsburys)
    1. Making Rosemary Insect Repellent

  1. I pour 300ml of cold water and 1/4 cup of dried rosemary into a saucepan.
  2. Bringing the mixture to a boil I simmer it for 25 minutes. The smell while it brews is amazing! Its hard to understand why the bugs don’t like it.
  3. Then I put 300ml of fresh water into a jar. I use old Bisto Best gravy jars for some of my concoctions because this saves me a lot of money.
  4. Using a small tea strainer I strain the juice from the boiled rosemary mixture into the jar.
  5. Throwing away the rosemary I then give the water and rosemary solution a stir.
  6. Once cooled I pour some of the mixture into the plastic spray bottle using a conical funnel.
  7. The jar and spray bottle are put into the fridge until required. 

Spraying my body all over every morning and evening I attempt to keep these biting insects away. Additionally I also spray before going outside.

I suspect that some of the mosquitos may have come from the stagnant water in our water butt. Mosquitos are said to breed in stagnant water. As a result we drained away the old water and now ensure that the water butt is refreshed regularly.

I’m going to be careful inside too because I have read that they can breed in stagnant water around the home as well.

My Review of the Repellent

I’ve been using the rosemary insect repellent for a while now and I’m finding that it does work to some extent.

Before I started using it I was being bitten a few times every day but now I only get the occasional bite. Also when I’m bitten now the bites do not seem as aggressive. Instead of the very pronounced red swelling and inflammation I had before I’m only swelling slightly now. The big bonus is that these smaller bites don’t itch as much either.

It feels as if the mosquitos are having a nibble and deciding that they don’t like the taste or smell of the rosemary so they give up. This means that they do not leave as much of their saliva in my body and therefore my reaction is not as great. I’m finding the spray is better than expensive over the counter insect repellents because they do not appear to be repelling them at all.

I have also found that the repellent is becoming darker in colour and stronger smelling while its left in the fridge. This could be another reason why I am getting bit less. In future I will leave the mixture in the fridge for a few days before I apply so that it increases in strength and smell.

Overall I am happy that its use has improved things but I’m always on the lookout for other solutions too.

Tips for using the spray
  1. Apply frequently
  2. Keep in the fridge when not in use
  3. Every 2 or 3 days throw away what is left in the spray bottle and replace with repellent from the original jar. This helps retain the repelling scent.
  4.  I wash the spray bottle spout before each use because the stickiness of the repellent jams it up and makes it harder to spray.
  5.  Allow the repellent dry on the skin before dressing to avoid marks on clothes.

2. Basil Plants

 

 

I bought a couple of basil plants because they are said to repel flies and mosquitos.

Again this is an inexpensive option when you buy the fresh basil in pots from the supermarket.

One of the plants sits in my kitchen so I can’t resist using this one in my cooking too. The other has pride of place in my living room window to keep the bugs away while we relax .

3. Petunias

 

I also have a hanging basket next to my front door containing beautiful pastel coloured petunias.

These beauties repel aphids like blackflies and greenflies. They also repel tomato hornworm, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs.

4. Peppermint Oil

 

 

I place a couple of drops of pure peppermint essential oil onto my footwear when I go outside. The good news is that I haven’t been bitten around my ankles since.

I also use the oil in my diffuser inside the house to keep the insects at bay.

I find its best to apply the oil this way so that the pure oil does not come into direct contact with my skin. Peppermint essential oils are too concentrated and powerful to be used neat on the skin.

Peppermint Pure Essential Oil

Precaution

Never ingest essential oils.

 

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Bite Relief

1. Lavender Oil

 

 

It takes a long time for my bites to heal and I can still see where last years mosquitoes got me! As a result I’ve been looking for suggestions to help deal with my existing bites and the ugly marks that they leave behind.

I came across an article about adding lavender oil to a bath because it may help to reduce the scars of insect bites. Already having a bottle of pure essential lavender oil I jumped at the chance to give this a try.

I buy my pure essential oils from Fresh Skin and I am very happy with them and their good prices;

Lavender Pure Essential Oil

Running the bath I add six drops of lavender essential oil. While soaking the bite areas tingle and I feel that the oil must be doing some good. The bonus is that the lavender smell is so relaxing.

A few soaks later and I can already see the difference because my bites are healing a lot quicker than usual.

Cautions
  • Do not use the lavender oil if you have psoriasis because of its ability to generate cell growth.
  • During pregnancy avoid use of this oil.
  • Avoid if you have low blood pressure because it may make you feel dull and drowsy.
Lavender Plants

I also bought a couple of lavender plants which are sitting next to the patio. This is the best place for them because my husband and I often sit there to enjoy the warmer weather.

Hopefully they will deter the little biters.

2. Aloe Vera Plant

 

 

As an added incentive for the bites to heal I turn to my trusty aloe vera plants. If you have not yet read my post about aloe vera plants take a look to see why I love them so much;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/growing-aloe-vera-plants-air-purifying/

Aloe vera gel is said to heal lots of different skin problems. In my opinion you can’t beat the gel directly from your own plant.

Tear off part of a leaf and the gel naturally seeps out. I  rub this gel directly onto the bite area and leave it to dry.

The gel feels very cooling and eases the itching and swelling.

My poor aloe vera plants lose a lot of their leaves quickly because I get so many bites. However they soon grow back and start to produce more plants at this time of the year. The plant in the above picture already has four new “babies” growing from its base.

3. Sea Water

 

 

On a recent trip to the seaside I quickly took off my sandals loving the feel of the sand under my feet. Then I began paddling in the sea and the cold was invigorating! As a result later that day I saw that my bite scars were greatly reduced in appearance and redness.

Natural sea salt contains magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium and all of these properties play an important role in skin health.

There is even a name for using seawater for medicinal purposes and this is Thalassotherapy. In Greek mythology Thalassa was the primeval spirit of the sea.

Sea water may also ease psoriasis, acne and eczema.

If you enjoy a bit of history take a look at Dr Richard Russell’s Brighton sea water cures c1750s;

https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/people/peopinv/dr-richard-russell/russell-dr-richard

Therefore if you are suffering from skin problems and are lucky enough to live by the sea go give this one a try!

4. Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve

 

Drawings of marshmallow and safflower blooms

 

I also created my own marshmallow and safflower oil salve. It was originally an idea for old wounds including old insect bite scars, but it is also proving to be an anti-itching cream for some skin conditions as well. I also find it stops the itching from any new bites I have too.

To find out more take a look at my “Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve – Amazing Natural Anti-Itch Cream” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/marshmallow-and-safflower-oil-ointment-boils-abscess-ulcer-old-wound-eczema-rough-skin-itching-relief-for-insect-bites-eczema-and-lichen-planus-marsgmallow-root-beeswax-for-salves/

 

5. Chickweed

 

 

Crushed chickweed is a quick and easy useful suggestion for a bite if its available.

Take a look at my “Common Chickweed” post to find out more.

http://theforagingherbalist.com/common-chickweed-bites-stings-chickweed-tea/

6. Sage

 

If you get bit in the garden and have  sage growing in you herbal patch then this is another option. Rub the fresh leaves onto bites and stings for first aid relief. The rubbing will crush the leaves and release their juices.

7. Narrow Leaf Plantain Salve

 

 

Bitten on the forehead by a mosquito while foraging I came across some narrow leaf plantain. Having a quick look on google I see that one of the leaves uses is for insect bites. Therefore picking a leaf I begin rubbing and crushing it between my fingers. Smearing the juice from the leaf onto the bite was easing the itching and swelling!

As  a result I took a few more leaves home to look into making a salve. Thanks to Natural Living Ideas I began making this salve;

https://www.naturallivingideas.com/healing-plantain-salve/

The salve is excellent and great at reducing the swelling and redness of new mosquito bites.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

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Good luck with avoiding those biting insects!

 

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