Home Remedies For Insect Bites

by Sam Malone

Insect bites are not uncommon. However much we try to keep our surroundings clean and free of insects, they still infest the world around us. Of course, not all insects are dangerous and/or irritating. But, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has found that the incidence of bed bugs has actually increased over the past decade due to an increase in the frequency of travel.

New Update: We will discuss many home remedies for insect bites later in this article; however we recently found that the quickest home remedy for a bug bite is hand sanitizer. Most hand sanitizers are made with rubbing alcohol. As long as the hand sanitizer is made of alcohol, grabbing a few pumps of the sanitizer and rubbing it on the insect bite is a fast and effective way to stop the itch. The only drawback to using alcohol on the itch, is that the relief is short lived. The alcohol only temporarily relieves the itch. However using alcohol in combination with other medicinal itch relievers is a good option. In addition, when other itch relievers like hydrocortisone are not stopping the itch, alcohol will do the job. You can also use rubbing alcohol from a bottle. You can either pour the liquid over the area, or rub it on using tissue, cotton balls or a clean cloth.

This brings about the question of what we can do to avoid getting bitten and what we can do in case we do get bitten. In this article, we will give you the best ways to do both.

What are the best ways to prevent bug bites?

The CDC recommends a number of things you can do both passive and active to avoid insect as well as mosquito bites. Here is what the CDC recommends.

  • Wearing long sleeve clothes
  • Using insect nets while sleeping
  • Avoiding places that have outbreaks
  • Avoiding going out-of-doors during those times of the day when insects are most active
  • Checking for bugs and ticks
  • Using insecticides or repellents

These are all some of the simplest ways of preventing insect bites. Keep in mind though that most over-the-counter repellents do not work. Research into different repellents has shown that each have a different capacity to repel insects. Also, lower concentrations of the same repellent, but in slow release mode, has a better response than high concentrations in a few doses.

Some of the most effective repellents are given below:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • PMD (Para-Menthane-3,8-Diol)
  • IR3535

Out of all these, DEET is found to be the most effective.

Natural ways to prevent insect bites

There are a number of beliefs about how different natural products provide repellent properties; none of these however have stood up to scientific scrutiny. For example, there is one myth that eating bananas will attract mosquitoes whereas eating garlic will not. Citronella is also supposed to be very good at repelling mosquitoes. Bug zappers and other electronic devices are considered safe ways of removing these pests. Unfortunately, none of these claims are true. Mosquitoes are attracted to humans and follow their carbon-dioxide trail. What we eat has very little bearing on the mosquito’s ability to track us.

Bug zappers may be good, but they do not provide complete protection, and citronella works only for a very short distance, after which it is totally useless.

If already been bitten, here are a few ways to treat itchy insect bites?

In most cases, whether it is a mosquito bite, a bed bug or any other creepy crawly, the bites do not need treatment. At the worst, they will be itchy and cause slight reddish swelling that will disappear naturally in a matter of days. In fact over time, the body gets used to the bites and may not even manifest as inflammation on feet or anywhere else.

Research has shown that most creams that are supposed to help treat insect bites really do not work. Applying a lotion of calamine or some other moisturizer is usually sufficient to remove the itchiness and soothe the skin. Nothing else is needed.

There are a number of traditional home remedies that people either recommend or use to treat themselves from insect bites. Most of these have not been scientifically verified and we cannot therefore comment on their efficacy.

The only advice that can be given is that except in very rare cases where the body manifests an allergic reaction to the insect bite, it is better to do nothing. If there is an allergic reaction, consult with your doctor immediately.


  1. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-and-other-insects-and-arthropods.htm
  2. www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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