Since I was a child, mosquitos have wreaked havoc on my life. It was a contest every summer – how many bug bites could I endure? The scars on my legs are literally the bug-bite story of my life. I’ve been told, “Bugs like you because you talk so much. They are attracted to carbon dioxide.” Whether this is true or not, I haven’t shut up.

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Let’s be honest, insect bites really kill the mood. And now with Zika, everyone is extra fearful and cautious of these little monsters.

Sure, traditional repellants can help, but they don’t guarantee around-the-clock protection. So the next time you stumble upon a bug bite, don’t be so quick to make a beeline for the closest pharmacy. In general, I am trying to be more holistic in my approach to healing and medicine. I have discovered some amazing alternatives to soothe your pain first. Experts say they might be just as effective as any over-the-counter medicine. Can’t hurt to try.

Essential Oils

Tea tree, lavender, and coconut oils all have properties that can alleviate itching, pain, and swelling. Tea tree oil is also antibacterial, which can help prevent infection from incessant scratching.

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Scents With the Power to Heal

Honey: If you don’t mind a bit of stickiness, honey is an anti-inflammatory and can alleviate itching.

Milk and Water: Mix equal parts skim milk and water, dip a thin cloth (like handkerchief or an old T-shirt) into the concoction, and dab your skin.

Lemon or Lime Juice: These fruit powerhouses provide itch relief and are antibacterial. DO NOT use if you have burns/sunburn. The acidity will hurt your skin.

Toothpaste: Because of the mint or peppermint flavor, and the menthol ingredient, it creates a cooling sensation on your skin. Your brain picks up on this feeling much quicker than the itching sensation. This is one of my favorites.

Basil: Basil leaves contain chemicals such as camphor, which creates a cool feeling, similar to menthol in toothpaste. Crush a few leaves and apply the bits directly to your bumps.

Ice: A single ice cube can constrict the blood vessels and decrease the body’s natural histamine release.

Tea Bags: Cool tea bags draw fluid out of a bite to reduce itching and swelling. Can I get an AMEN?

Apple Cider Vinegar: This is a great home remedy to block itching because of its small acidic levels. Dab it onto individual spots or, if your body’s been a buffet for bugs like me, you can add two to three cups to warm water and soak in a tub.

Happy Healing!