DIY bug bite and sunburn remedies for summer

Inevitably this summer, someone will encounter a bee in the wading pool, forget to re-apply sunscreen, or tramp through the wrong part of the forest.

We all know to have ice, over-the-counter pain relievers, lotions and antihistamines ready. But a treasure trove of quick-acting treatment options is right in the kitchen.

By Ashley Talmadge

Bug bites, stings and burns are all a part of summer. Alleviate the pain with remedies from your kitchen.

A cool bath often is the best way to relievesunburned skin. Many believe in the addition of oatmeal, bakingsoda, or vinegar as a soothing agent. After a soak, try one ofthese home remedies:

  • Aloe (best straight from the plant, but pre-made lotions arehelpful)
  • Shaving cream
  • Milk or yogurt
  • Potatoes (pulverized to a liquid, dried on the skin, andshowered off)
  • Cornstarch (dusted on non-blistered areas irritated by clothingstraps or bands)


A bee stings once, but leaves its stinger behind. Remove thestinger as quickly as possible. Wasps and hornets do not leavetheir stingers behind and may sting multiple times, so leave thearea before starting treatment.

Make a thick paste using water and oneof the following ingredients. Apply directly to the wound andleave on for about 20 minutes.

  • Baking soda
  • Meat tenderizer (contains papain to break down proteins in thevenom)
  • Charcoal (the activated form is cleanest, but charcoal from acampfire can be used in a pinch)
  • Honey (unpasteurized contains antibacterial agents)
  • Dirt/mud
  • Toothpaste (undiluted)

Or try one of these plant-based items:

  • Sliced onion
  • Papaya (a natural source of the papain found in meattenderizer)
  • Plantain (a common backyard weed) ground into a poultice

Bee, wasp and hornet stings

Many of the remedies used for stings may also be usedto treat the itchy bites of insects such as mosquitoes, horse fliesand black flies. Additional remedies for itching include:

  • Oatmeal bath
  • Aloe cream (refrigerated for better itch relief)
  • Green tea bag, dampened and refrigerated
  • Tea tree oil, witch hazel or alcohol (including handsanitizer)
  • Basil, crushed (repels mosquitoes and contains anestheticproperties)
  • Mouthwash with menthol (cools the bite site)

Itchy bug bites

It is essential to wash well with soap and water toremove any oily residue from the skin. After that, a cooling bathcan work wonders. Bath additives like oatmeal and baking soda workwell. Try Epsom salts, buttermilk or mint tea as soothingadditions. After dabbing the rash dry, try applying one of thefollowing to dry the outbreak and speed healing:

  • Oatmeal, baking soda or vinegar paste
  • Watermelon rind
  • Cucumber slices
  • Lemon slices
  • Banana peel

Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac

  • Measure about a cup of unflavored oats per bathtub of water.Instant, quick-cooking and old fashioned oats all work well.
  • Grind the oats to a fine powder, using a coffee grinder or foodprocessor on the “high” setting.
  • Test your powder by adding a spoonful to a cup of warm water.It should make the water look “milky” and feel “silky.” If there’sa lot of sediment, you need to grind it more.
  • Pour the ground oatmeal into running tepid bath water, stirringas you go.

How to make an oatmeal bath

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