Love spending time outside in the summer, but don’t like getting bitten by mosquitoes? Thankfully there are some natural ways to deter them, and relieve itchy bites if they do get you.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes thrive in hot environments and are attracted to us more when we are sweating and have higher body temperatures. All of these conditions are likely present during the summer months when it’s warm and we spend a lot of time outdoors.

Insect repellent is a common item to have on any camping trip or even an evening spent at the beach, a park, or in your own backyard. However, many of the store bought repellents contain toxic ingredients which can be damaging to your body and environment and may cause skin irritation and rashes.

Here are some natural insect repellents that can help ward off pesky mosquitoes as-well-as some natural ways to alleviate the irritation that comes with their bites.

Natural Repellents 

Avoid Going Out During Peak Mosquito Times

An image of a woman sitting on the grass looking at a sunset

Have you ever noticed that mosquitoes are typically out in full force during dawn and dusk. During these times, you may want to avoid going outdoors. But if you do want to spend time outside, you could set up a mosquito net or try one of the following natural repellants. Additionally, if any doors or windows in your home are open make sure you have fully intact insect screens in place.

Wear Light Colored Clothing

Wearing light coloured clothing may make you less of a target because it reflects heat, which mosquitoes are attracted to. When possible wear loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and pant legs as-well-as socks and shoes to give the skeeters less exposed skin to attack.

Lemon Balm 

A herb that is part of the mint family, lemon balm contains high amounts of citronellal and citranellol. These compounds are natural insect repellents and what give lemon balm its lemony scent. For topical use, crush some lemon balm leaves and rub on areas of exposed skin. 

Basil

An image of a basil plant in a pot

Basil is another herb that contains certain compounds, including eugenol and citrenellol, that deter mosquitoes. To make a basil spritz, pour one cup of boiling water over one cup of washed fresh basil leaves or 4 tbsp dried basil. When the water is cool, strain the basil infused water into a spritzer bottle and add one cup of witch hazel. Store in the refrigerator for future use.

Vinegar or Witch Hazel 

Apple Cider Vinegar and Witch Hazel can be used as an insect repellant spray. The most common way to use them is to mix one or the other 1:1 with water in a dark glass spray bottle. Additionally, you could add a few drops of certain essential oils (some options are listed below) to make the mixture smell nice and strengthen its repellant effect. You can use one essential oil or a combination, it’s up to you. 

Essential Oils 

An image of a woman putting a drop of oil on her arm

Certain essential oils can be effective at repelling mosquitoes because of their strong scents. These are generally used in in a carrier oil such as jojoba, avocado, or sweet almond oil. Put a few drops of your chosen essential oil(s) into a dark glass spray bottle, along with 30ml of carrier oil, and then spritz on your skin as needed. Just make sure not to get any on your clothes as oil can stain and be difficult to remove.

Essential oils that can be useful in repelling mosquitos include tea tree, lemongrass, thyme, rosemary, geranium, catnip, cloves, lavender, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and peppermint. 

I can personally attest to the fact that certain essential oils are effective at repelling skeeters. A while back I went on a walk through a mosquito infested forest with some family members and I put on some moisturizer first. It contained lavender, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and thyme essential oils, and I didn’t get bitten once even though my family members did.

It is important never to use undiluted essential oils on your skin. If you have any open cuts, bites, or blisters, please don’t use any products containing essential oils as they may irritate your skin. Additionally, certain essential oils should be avoided if you are pregnant or have certain  medical conditions. 

If using essential oils, we recommend that you do some research first and a 24 hour skin test of a properly diluted essential oil to see if you have any adverse reactions to it.

Natural Bite Relief 

Peppermint 

An image of a peppermint plant in a teapot

Peppermint has a cooling effect and can help relieve or prevent itching. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Crush up some fresh peppermint leaves and apply the paste directly to the bites. Alternatively, brew a cup of peppermint tea and when it has cooled soak a flannel in it and apply to the affected area(s).

Chamomile Tea

A calming and soothing tea, chamomile can provide relief for a number of ailments including mosquito bites. For relief, brew a cup of chamomile tea and squeeze out excess water from the teabag and place the teabag on a bite. Or as mentioned above concerning peppermint tea, soak a flannel with the cooled chamomile tea and apply to area(s) with bites.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to being useful as a repellant, it can also help alleviate itching. For use as bite relief, put some ACV on a cotton ball and apply to the bite(s). Let it dry, and reapply as needed. 

Cucumber 

An image of two cucumbers growing in a garden

Cucumbers are cooling, and contain nutrients that may alleviate inflammation and irritation associated with mosquito bites. To use it for relief, slice up a cucumber into rings or make a paste and apply to any bite(s). 

Holy Basil (Tulsi)

This fragrant herb is soothing, and boasts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and analgesic properties, among others.1, 2 If you have some fresh leaves, crush them and rub the resulting paste on bites. Alternatively, as mentioned above for mint and chamomile, you could soak a flannel in cooled holy basil tea and apply to bites. 

Aloe Vera 

Aloe is known for it’s ability to cool skin and alleviate skin irritation. Some of its benefits include anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties.3 Simply rub some 100% pure aloe onto your mosquito bites for relief. Keeping it in a cold place such as a refrigerator or ice box will add to its cooling effect.

Baking Soda 

Believe it or not, baking soda can help relieve itching by neutralizing the skin’s pH levels. Make a paste by adding a little water to one tablespoon of baking soda and apply directly to the bites. When dried, gently wipe off with a damp cloth.

Lemon Juice 

An image of lemons on a chopping board

Lemon juice has antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Applying lemon juice to a bite may relieve swelling and itching and aid in preventing infections. But be warned, it may sting a little! 

Oats

Oats can help sooth irritated skin and relieve the itch from mosquito bites. Blend some whole oats into a fine powder and add some water to make a paste. Apply to the bites and gently wipe off with a damp cloth once dry. Or if you have a lot of bites, stir 1/2 – 1 cup of the powdered oats into a warm bath and soak yourself in it for 15 to 20 minutes.

Take Precautions

It is always worth doing a 24 hour skin test on a small area before using an aforementioned natural insect repellant or bite relief. Most of these are mild, but you want to be sure that you aren’t going to have an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients. Additionally, if you think you are having an adverse reaction to a mosquito bite or topical repellant/relief, please consult a medical professional as soon as possible. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376420/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115300897
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/
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