remedies for insect bites

Insect bites and stings cause many discomforts like itching, swelling, inflammation and pain and such discomforts may turn out to become vulnerable to many diseases later.

Whenever insects bite, they suck blood from the body or inject a small amount of venom into the skin causing itching, inflammation, irritation, swelling and pain. Part of the venom may still remain even after removing the insect by a gentle scrub causing more discomfort.

Common insect bites

Most common insects that bite or sting are mosquitoes, bees, bed bugs and spiders.

Before attempting remedies, the affected part must be scrapped gently to remove the remains of the insect. While scrapping, take care to ensure that you do not squeeze the left over venom of the insect further deep into the body.

If the discomforts like itching, pain or swelling persist many home remedies are available and you can try them depending upon availability and suitability to get relief from insect bites. However when such bites do not respond well to the initial treatments, they may lead to various diseases like, malaria, dengue, tularemia, plague, Lyme disease etc. In such cases, where symptoms of the disease are detected they must be properly diagnosed and treated by further home remedies or by visiting a doctor.

Home remedies to treat insect bites

Many home remedies are available to treat insect bites. Most common and easy of them are:

Ice pack

Apply ice pack on the affected area. This will numb the area of bite and reduce swelling. You can place an ice pack like a poultice on the area for about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not use ice pack for more than 15 minutes continuously. If ice is not available, you can use a bag containing frozen vegetables. Running cold water exposure on the bite is also a source of relief.

If the bite is on the lower part of the body, the affected area may be kept elevated to reduce the swelling.

Apple cider vinegar

Dip a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and place it on the affected area for immediate relief.

Cider and apple
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Prepare a paste of aspirin tablets with water and apply the paste on the bite for relief from itching, inflammation and swelling.

Baking soda

Apply a mixture of baking soda and skin lotion on the affected area for quick relief. If the problem persists, soak a cotton ball in the same mixture and keep it on the area for about 10 minutes to get good relief.

Tea tree oil

Frequently applying one or two drops of tea tree oil on the bite or sting will provide adequate relief.

Peppermint oil

Application of peppermint oil or toothpaste containing peppermint oil is effective. Since peppermint oil has cooling and healing effects, it provides quick relief.

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By rubbing a cut lemon (the inside pulpy portion or the outside skin) on the area provides relief. This is because lemon has anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties.

Onion or Garlic

Application of minced onion or garlic is helpful in reduction of swelling and itching. In addition to curing the problem, the aroma of onion and garlic ensures repulsion of the insects, thus preventing further bites.


Aloe vera

Aloe vera pulp or gel can be applied on the affected area for reduction in swelling, inflammation and itching since aloe Vera is a natural antiseptic.

Basil leaf

Basil leaves contain eugenol which can provide relief from itchy skin.


  1. Boil fresh basil leaves of basil leaf powder in water.
  2. Strain well.
  3. Apply the extract on the affected area.

Health benefits of tulsi


Honey is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. Rubbing a drop of honey on the bite gives immediate relief.


Prepare a paste from oatmeal and apply the same on the bite to get relief from inflammation and itching. If the entire body is affected, taking bath in warm water with oatmeal powder sprayed in it is also a good remedy.


Plantain leaves

Eating plantain leaves is an excellent medicine to cure itching and inflammation due to mosquitoes and wasp bite. It must be ensured that no pesticide is sprayed on the leaves before consuming the same.

Other remedies

  1. Apply calamine lotion which will reduce itching and redness.
  2. Gently pat the affected area with wet fingers dipped in sugar for a few minutes for relief.


If the insect happens to be spider, bee or wasp, home remedies may not be sufficient as such bites affect the whole body. In such cases, consult a doctor without delay. In the case of children below 12 years of age, take care before administering home remedies as children are prone to allergies.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.