Photo of a mosquito on skin
They can make holiday travel a misery but can also produce bothersome symptoms at home

Taking the sting out of insect bites

2 July, 2014

Bug bites are a fact of life – only more so at certain times of year, and in certain parts of the world.

Most insect bites are a simple annoyance, causing some itching and red welts on the skin that disappear after a few days.

Some people, however, are more sensitive than others to insect bites and many people believe that the issue of insect bites is becoming more complex in the light of climate change and may even be producing unexpected symptoms.

If symptoms of collapse or difficulty in breathing develop, emergency professional treatment must be sought urgently. If you have a bite that ulcerates or just won’t heal always seek professional advice.

For everyday bites, the following remedies will help deal with the pain, sting or shock; but it is also important to employ methods to stop infection developing.

Fast relief

Keep a spray of pyrethrum handy. If no medicine is at hand, rubbing vinegar or raw onion over both bee and wasp stings will reduce the welling, If outdoors, mud placed on a bee sting will help reduce swelling and will draw the sting out as it dries. If near the sea, take advantage of teh healing properties of salt water to help ease the pain.


Several herbs can help repel insects as well as soothe bites and stings.

Lavender, Pennyroyal, Pyrethrum, Southernwood, Tansy, Wormwood are all good for repelling insects. Make an infusion and apply to the skin (when cool) using a spritzer, or spray in a room.

Witch hazel Helps relieve heat and inflammation. Make an infusion or use distilled witch hazel and apply externally.

Aloe Vera gel can have a soothing effect on red, inflamed skin.

Marigold or St John’s Wort If the skin is broken, to help prevent infection and promote healing. Make an infusion, or use tinctures neat or diluted in water and apply externally at regular intervals.

To prevent a bite becoming infected take Echinacea decoction or tincture internally {one tsp in 25mls of water}, three times a day. Crushed Garlic or a slice of raw Onion applied externally may relieve stinging and reduce risk of infection.


Choose the remedy that best matches the symptoms.

Apis 30 Wasp or bee stings, swelling, redness, stinging, smarting pains, worse for heat. Symptoms of collapse. One every few hours until improvement occurs.

Caladium 30 To relieve itching of mosquito bites. Take three doses a day as necessary.

Hypericum 30 Punctured skin by bites or stings; skin tingling, burning pains radiating from injury. One or two doses as often as needed.

Ledum 30 Punctured wounds, from a bite or sting. Puffy swelling, parts can become red and inflamed. Try this remedy first for horsefly and wasp stings. One dose every four hours.

Essential oils

Apply as needed.

Citronella and Eucalyptus Dilute two drops of each oil in 10mls of a suitable vegetable oil as a repellent, apply to exposed areas. Citronella has been proven to help repel mosquitoes. These oils can also be burned in the room to deter insects.

Eucalyptus, Lavender, Tea tree Use for after-sting care. Dab one or two drops of any of these oils on the affected area to soothe inflammation and help prevent infection.

Bach flower remedies

These can be safely used  as necessary.

Five Flower Remedy To help soothe and assist with distress. Take a few drops internally or apply externally.

Five Flower Cream Apply locally to help soothe the bite or sting.