Man spraying his leg with essential oils for bug bites

Stop the Itch with Essential Oils for Bug Bites

You’re on a beautiful hike with your kids and dog, or maybe you’re relaxing in the backyard with some close friends. Then, suddenly, it happens. An obnoxious critter decides to make you its afternoon snack. And before you know it, you have a huge, itchy welt. 

Even if you can refrain from scratching it during the day, it will bother you at night. Sure, you could use an OTC hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, but you’d prefer something more natural. And you don’t want to smell like citronella. Luckily, there are several great-smelling essential oils for bug bites that help soothe the itch and reduce the appearance of the welt. 

The 9 Best Essential Oils for Bug Bites

Way of Will Tea Tree oilEssential oils have been applied to bug bites for centuries. Healers from many different cultures claim they work to ease suffering after stings and bites. According to this study, there is scientific fact to back up the anecdotal evidence. 

Before you spread the essential oils all over your tender skin, make sure you test for an allergic reaction. If a little bit of oil causes you to itch or your skin to break out in a rash, you should not use that oil. It’s also important you remember to never put pure essential oils directly onto your skin. They need to be diluted, or weakened a little, with a carrier oil like jojoba oil. But once you’re ready, here are the best essential oils for bug bites:

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Basil essential oil may ease irritation and limit the ability of bacteria to enter the skin.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon)

Lemongrass essential oil can be an effective mosquito repellent, according to this study. Mosquitoes don’t like the smell, so they tend to avoid the area.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata)

Eucalyptus essential oil tends to have a cooling effect on the skin. That cooling sensation could help after being exposed to biting insects.

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

The name chamomile essential oil probably conjures images of coziness because it is so well-known for its tranquilizing properties. It also can work topically on bug bites to limit the reaction on your skin, according to this study.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender essential oil is one of the most widely used essential oils for mosquito repellent. According to this study, it can be highly effective to repel mosquito bites.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Peppermint essential oil can help after a bug bite because it has a cooling sensation from the menthol when applied to the skin. Even just a few drops of peppermint oil will help your skin feel better—just make sure you also use a carrier oil, like almond oil, to protect your skin.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary essential oil can help with bug bites because it can inhibit some bacterial growth, according to this study. If bacteria enters a wound, like a scratched-open bite, the bacteria growth could make the site itchy. Stopping the itch will help the bite heal more quickly.

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia

Tea tree essential oil is often a go-to oil for skin irritation. It may help reduce swelling and itching from bug bites, so your skin looks and feels better more quickly.

Frankincense (Boswellia sacra)

The scent of frankincense essential oil is noxious to bugs, particularly mosquitoes. Wearing it when you could be exposed should help limit your appeal to the bugs.

Don’t Use These Essential Oils for Bug Bites

There are a lot of essential oils for bug bites to choose from. But not all essential oils will help your skin after you get mosquito bites

Any essential oil that tends to warm, like cinnamon, camphor, or oregano, should not be used. The warming qualities of the essential oil can increase the risk of continued swelling at the site of the insect bites, making your initial reaction to the bug bite or sting worse. 

How Essential Oils for Bug Bites Work

Person holding sssential oils for bug bitesEssential oils for bug bites work in two distinct ways. First, one group contains properties that can help lessen the severity of the rash from the bug bites. They may help reduce the amount of time your body needs to heal from the bite.

The second group has antihistamine properties. They may help lower the feeling of itchiness. When a bug bites you, your body releases histamines. Those histamines are chemicals that work to get the allergen out of your body. They can make you sneeze or itch. Scratching your bites can make you more susceptible to an infection in the affected area because the dirt and bacteria under your fingernails can travel into the skin you tore open from scratching. 

If your bug bites are extreme, or they don’t seem to be getting better after a few days, you could be experiencing an allergic reaction to the bite. If you’re not sure your reaction is normal, make sure you seek out medical advice and get proper health care.

How to Use Essential Oils for Bug Bites

Person holding a bottle of essential oils for bug bitesWhen you’re covered in itchy bug bites, it may be tempting to grab whatever essential oil is closest and slather it all over your body, but don’t do it! It’s important to remember that you should never apply pure essential oils directly to your skin. Instead, you need to dilute them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, or even an aloe vera gel. The carrier oils are gentler on your skin and help protect it while allowing you to get the benefits from the essential oils. 

To dilute your essential oils at a 5% dilution rate, use 15 drops of oil to 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.

A great way to apply essential oils for bug bites is in a lotion or roller bottle. Way of Will’s Bug Off is a blend of essential oils for bug bites that supports soothing the bite and reducing itchiness

It isn’t too complicated to DIY your own essential oil blend if you’re interested in making a custom mix. Here’s a simple recipe at 5% dilution:

  • 7 drops lavender essential oil 
  • 8 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 2 teaspoons carrier oil 
  • Pour all oils into an empty roller bottle. 

Making Essential Oil Bug Repellent

Lavender and peppermint oilsThe best essential oils for bug bites can also help you make a great insect repellent. Here’s an easy DIY recipe. In a spray bottle, mix:

  • 15 drops lavender oil
  • 1 teaspoon witch hazel
  • 1.5 teaspoons distilled water

By adding a liquid carrier, like witch hazel, in addition to some distilled water, you can turn your essential oils for bug bites into a bug spray. A liquid carrier is typically non-oil based. This means, when you spray it all over your clothes and body, you’re not putting oil on everything. A carrier oil is great if you’re applying it directly to your skin, but less helpful in a bug spray.

The bug spray is a great choice if you’re out and about. But if you’re hanging out in the same spot, consider using your essential oil insect repellent in your diffuser. By using a diffuser, you can spread the scent of the few drops of essential oil to a larger area, making an effective mosquito repellent while also getting the aromatherapy benefits. 

Here’s an easy recipe for diffuser bug repellent:

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint oil

Fill the diffuser to the fill line with water, add the oil, and get diffusing! 

Essential Oils for Bug Bites Do More Than Just Smell Good

Essential oils for bug bites: man scratching his legThe holistic properties of some oils make them the best essential oils for bug bites. They provide a natural alternative to chemicals while also improving your well-being. 

Ready to give essential oils for bug bites a try? Check out Way of Will’s Bug Off. Not only will you have powerful protection against stings and bites, but you can also be confident in the ethical sourcing and environmentally friendly packaging. Way of Will is dedicated to ensuring sustainability and a feel-good shopping experience.

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