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Natural First Aid Treatments for Bug Bites Stings: Baking Soda to Witch Hazel to Soft Bean Bag Chairs

Posted August 28, 2013

In my past articles, I’ve talked about natural remedies for two very common summertime problems that parents have to deal with every year as our kids go out and play in the great outdoors: 1. natural treatments for sunburn, 2. homeopathic remedies for poison ivy rash.

In this 3rd article of my natural remedies series, let’s talk about those nasty, itchy, and sometimes painful bug bites.  What should you do and what should you use on your family that isn’t full of chemicals and otherwise bad stuff?

Bee sting ouch!

First, when your child gets stung or bitten, there may be some freaking out involved.  The first thing to do is to calm them down.  Bring them inside, nest them into their favorite soft bean bag chair, and tell them you will make them feel better!  Once they are sitting comfortably and calmly in their bean bag, try these natural homeopathic remedies:

If your precious child has been stung by a bee, make sure you remove the stinger with a pair of tweezers and a credit card– preferably sterilized.  At least make sure it’s cleaned with anti-bacterial soap and hot water.  Tweezers will be best for getting a good hold of the stinger.  Don’t do anything else until you get rid of that stinger.  Instead of grabbing the stinger directly, which might push more poison into your child, use the credit card to gently push/scrape it loose by sliding it across the stinger, and then grab it with the tweezers once the credit card has gotten it out of the skin enough.  

Use a credit card to remove a stinger safely

Then, apply a paste made of equal parts water and baking soda to the sting site to reduce swelling.   Or, equal parts water and apple cider vinegar works.  Apply with a cotton ball.   You can also put ice on the site for fifteen minutes at every hour.  Or, rub a clove of garlic cut in half over the site.

These remedies also work on other stings, like fire and carpenter ants.  By the way, here’s some photos and information about different bees and ants that sting or don’t – wasps versus honey bees versus carpenter bees, etc. - so confusing!  They all have different levels of sting-risk, so it’s good to be able to recognize what to really freak out over and what to just let buzz around.

Honey bees sting to protect their honey
Honey bees sting to protect their honey

Wasps are agressive and may chase you to sting you.
Wasps are aggressive and may chase you to sting you.

Bumble bees sting but only if you bother them.
Bumble bees sting but usually only if you bother them/step on them/etc..

Carpenter bees don't sting, but will buzz around you to scare you.
Carpenter bees don't sting, but will buzz around you to scare you.  They look like bumble bees, but are often much louder and will dive at your or chase you to scare you away.  Bumble bees usually aren't that aggressive.

Cow killer wasps are highly aggressive and the sting is extremely painful, hence the name!  They are wingless and look like big fuzzy ants.  Stay away!
Cow killer wasps are highly aggressive and the sting is extremely painful, hence the name!  They are wingless and look like big fuzzy ants.  Stay away!

Mosquito Bites:
Let me mention that the chemical DEET is not my recommendation to ward away bugs.  Instead, use something more natural like a lemon and eucalyptus-based spray (like Repel, which isn’t even that expensive).  It was found to be as effective as many Deet sprays and I like the sound of lemon and eucalyptus better than Deet!

Natural Repel Insect Spray

Soak a piece of gauze in witch hazel and then apply it to the bite.  If you can, tape or band-aid it right on the bite site to reduce and treat the itching.  Witch hazel is a natural astringent (I use it on pimples too!).    If there are many bites, soak in a warm bath with 2 cups Epson Salt to sooth and half cup baking soda or apple cider vinegar.  Of course, the good old tried and true oatmeal bath is great too.  You can get colloidal oatmeal from the grocery or drugstore, or make your own by grinding down oatmeal finely.

Last week, I was weeding and I guess I must have stepped into a chigger waiting area because when I looked down at my legs, I had at least 50 bites from foot all the way up my upper thighs!  Chiggers, if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing them yet, are tiny mites that the naked eye can’t even see.  Yes, it’s a myth that chiggers burrow and stay under your skin (at least that’s what my doctor said).  Still, the bites are REALLY itchy.  I bathed in an Epson salt and oatmeal bath for two nights in a row, and by the third night, the bites were so much less itchy that I didn’t do anymore baths.  I used the oatmeal powder mixed with a little bath water and covered myself in the paste, like it was mud.  It stuck to my legs even after I put them back into the bath.  Still, it was super easy to wash off and the tub was easy to wash too.

You should see a doctor if:
Your child’s lips or tongue feel like they are swelling.  Even if you’re not sure, and something tells you they might be swelling, go to the doctor.  Your child could be going into an allergic reaction that can become very serious.  Certainly, if he is having difficulty breathing or swallowing even just a little bit, go immediately to the doctor or emergency room.  Many people are severely allergic to bites and stings.  You can also develop an allergy when you didn’t have one before, so don’t mess around!  I am allergic to bee stings, but it didn’t develop until I was in my twenties.

Stay tuned for Part 4 – Car Sickness… Yuck!

Have you used these or other natural home remedies?  Did they work for your family?  Why or why not?  Please share your real life stories!

Yours truly, Jade

Jade is the founder and CEO of Ahh! Products. Find her on

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