All summer long, the elements give you reasons to itch and scratch. When the bee stings, the mosquito bites or the poison ivy comes creeping, try these all-natural remedies for a quick anti-itch fix.
Relief from Poison Ivy and Its Troublesome Siblings
Poisons oak, ivy and sumac all contain an oily chemical known as urushiol, which irritates your skin and can produce a severe allergic reaction. While up to 30 percent of people are immune to these urushiol-induced allergies, those of us who are not so lucky can experience serious discomfort when we come in contact with this plant – including itching, redness, oozing skin and severe burning pain where the plant touched your skin.
A neighbor friend of mine, on a forest hike, blew his nose into a leaf: a poison ivy leaf. When I saw him that evening, he had welts and a rash covering his entire face and hands. Worse than the unbearable itch, he couldn’t even breathe from his nose because it was swollen shut. I immediately pulled up a couple of dandelion plants from my backyard and put them into a blender with honey and the gel scraped from an aloe leaf. After smearing the poultice all over his face, I sent him home with dandelions to make into a tea. By the next morning, his itching and rash were 75 percent better!
Here are more natural ways to soothe poison ivy:
1. Wash the contact area thoroughly. Because urushiol is an oily substance, water alone will not remove it; be sure to scrub with soap and water.
2. Crush dandelion greens. Apply to effected area as poultice, changing every hour. You can also put these into a blender with aloe gel and honey to make a smoother poultice.
3. Scrape aloe gel directly from the plant and apply generously to the affected area. This can lessen the symptoms of burning, itching and pain.
4. Mash plantain leaves and apply as poultice, changing every hour to relieve itching.
5. Chickweed root, magnolia flower, chrysanthemum flower and kudzu root are part of a traditional Chinese formula, which is used to reduce the allergic and inflammatory responses.
Take the Itch Out of Insect Bites
It’s humans versus bugs and, unfortunately, we are on the losing side most of the time. Though the bug bite itself is rarely painful, the body’s reaction can cause pain, itching, redness and swelling. In some cases, a serious allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock occurs, which can involve breathing difficulties and requires immediate medical attention.
Natural ways to soothe itchy bites:
1. Prevention is the easiest way to avoid dealing with insect bites. Avoid the toxic chemicals found in commercial insect repellents. Use natural alternatives, including oils made from lemongrass, citronella, eucalyptus, wintergreen, lavender and turmeric.
2. Once bitten, remove the stinger, if there is one, and clean area with water. Use an ice pack for temporary relief of severe itching and swelling.
3. Be as cool as a cucumber. Place cucumber skins on top of the bites to sooth the itching and irritation. You can also cut 2-inch round slices from a fresh eggplant and place on top of bite to draw out toxins and sooth the irritation.
4. Apply honey to a bug bite to sooth the skin. Because honey is a natural antibiotic, it can also help prevent infections.
5. Apply a blend of essential oils of eucalyptus, winter green and peppermint or tea tree oil to bites every 2 to 3 hours to relieve itching and aid healing.