Summer fun outdoors with the family can sadly be ruined by bites and stings from bees, wasps, bugs and more PLUS nasty nettles.
But luckily there are lots of simple home remedies for bites and stings we can whip up easily from natural antibiotic and antihistamine ingredients in our kitchen.
And I have got a collection of these must know remedies for you here.
Usually these home remedies for bites and stings are all we need to:
- Relieve pain fast
- Manage inflammation
- And prevent infection.
But some people can have severe allergic responses to bites and stings. Bites and stings can also get seriously infected and require prescribed antibiotics.
So I also have key tips for spotting:
PLEASE NOTE: this post does not give qualified medical advice. Seek urgent medical attention for symptoms of an allergic response to bites or stings and seek medical help for infection or prolonged inflammation.
Allergic Response To Bites & Stings
Some of us do have serious allergic reactions to insect stings and bites.
It is critical to know the symptoms and get urgent help if they appear. Classic signs are :
- hives or swelling and redness away from the sting or bite itself
- tightness in chest or throat
- difficulty breathing & wheezing
- swollen face or mouth
- weak or racing pulse
- stomach pain
Get emergency medical help fast if you have any of these symptoms.
Bite & Sting Infections
Most wasp and bee stings do not get infected. Infected bites are most commonly from flies, bugs and spiders that have been in contact with dead animals or animal faeces.
Typical signs of an infected bite are :
- Fluid weeping from bite
- Pus discharging from bite
- Hard ball like swelling around bite
- Spreading inflammation
Seek medical advice for these symptoms as you may need prescribed antibiotics.
Most spiders are not highly venomous but if any around you are check this spider bite guide to recognise the spiders and their bites.
Strangely, infected bites may be less painful than inflamed mosquito bites. Camping last year I got an infected spider bite on my shoulder I didn’t notice – as it hadn’t hurt – until the size of a tennis ball!!
So don’t assume bites aren’t infected if they don’t hurt. If swollen hard, weeping or discharging get checked.
What Bit Me?
We don’t always need to work out what bit us because most home bite & sting remedies relieve both wasp & bee stings PLUS spider & bug bites.
The key questions are :
- Is anything still in the bite or sting?
- Are there multiple puncture points?
We need to get anything in the bite, e.g. a stinger or an actual tick, out first before doing anything else.
Bees leave stingers in us. Wasps usually don’t. Stuck stingers keep pumping venom so use the bee sting remedies below to remove fast.
Ticks attach themselves to us to suck blood. They spread serious disease. Use the tick bite remedies below to find and remove them fast.
Multiple Puncture Points
Bites with multiple puncture points are often spider or horse fly bites. Both are very vulnerable to infection when the bug has been in contact with dead animals or animal faeces. Very thoroughly wash and disinfect bites as soon as possible.
Bee Sting Remedies
If you think you’ve been stung by a bee check first for the stinger.
The bee’s stinger has a venom sac attached to it which keeps pumping away as long as the stinger is stuck in us. So we need to get that stinger and it’s sac out fast.
The best way to remove a stinger is:
- with tweezers (so keep a pair in your first aid kit)
- or by running the edge of a bank card (or similar) over it.
Don’t squeeze around the stinger as this can actually draw it in.
If some of the stinger is stuck apply a DIY bee sting salve.
Bee Sting Salve
The best quick DIY bee sting salve is made with baking soda (aka bicarb).
Bicarbonate of soda is a natural antihistamine that reduces inflammation and works as a salve to remove splinters of all sorts.
To make the salve :
- Add a teaspoon of tepid water to a dessert spoon of bicarb
- Mix into a fairly stiff paste
- Apply thickly to the sting
- Put a plaster over the sting
The salve can work in under 10 minutes but may need an hour or more to draw out the sting.
If you don’t have bicarb, you can make a bee sting salve with salt.
Once the bee’s stinger is out, treat the sting with the common bite & sting remedies below.
Wasp Sting Remedies
Wasp stings can be very painful, especially for kids, even though bee stings contain more venom.
Wasps can – unlike bees – sting us repeatedly and their sting contains acetylcholine which actually transmits pain. Hornet stings have high levels of acetylcholine.
So the best home wasp sting remedies knock out the acetylcholine with acidic ingredients in our kitchen including :
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Lime juice
- Plain vinegar
Just dab on with cotton wool and hold on until the pain eases.
You can then follow the common bite & sting remedies below to relieve swelling and inflammation.
Wasps rarely leave stingers in but do check and use the tips above on bee stings to remove if they have.
If you know wasps will be around it is worth making this wasp repellent spray or a DIY wasp trap if they are a problem in your garden.
Common Bite & Sting Remedies
Most bug and spider bites can be treated with the same quick remedies. As can bee and wasp stings once you’ve removed the bee stinger and knocked out acetylcholine in the wasp sting.
To treat the bite or sting simply:
- Wash with soapy water (or antiseptic gel if not near water)
- Ice the sting or bite (if possible)
- Apply any of these you have :
- Witch hazel
- Baking soda
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Aloe vera gel
- Coconut oil
These are all natural antibiotics that stop infection but also natural antihistamines that relieve swelling.
If you don’t have any of the above to hand you can also try :
- Aspirin dissolved in water
Remember to take witch hazel, aloe vera or DIY bug bite relief on trips.
But if you are camping or hiking and have nothing else you can mush up plantain or dock leaves as a salve to draw out histamine, infection and even bee stingers :
Tick Bite Remedies
Ticks are tiny blood sucking bugs that attach themselves to us.
They can cause serious illness so we all need to know how to avoid, repel & remove them when we’re having fun outdoors in areas with ticks.
And we need to help kids learn to spot ticks without sending them into blind panic!
Avoiding Tick Bites
In areas with ticks, the best ways to avoid bites are to wear :
- Long trousers
- Long sleeved shirts
- Boots rather than sandals
- Heavy socks
- Tick repellent
Covering up is dull but if you’re camping or hiking near cattle, sheep or deer it can help and obviously helps prevent sunburn.
We can apply tick repellent to ourselves PLUS our clothing and kit.
There is lots of debate about the safety of DEET based tick repellents but they are regulated by the EPA in the USA. If you have questions and concerns read this guide from the EPA on tick repellents.
If you prefer to make your own tick repellent try this recipe :
Whenever you’ve been outdoors in a tick area get everyone to check each other before heading home.
Ticks hide in folds in our body, so look in all these spots :
- Hairline especially nape of neck
- In & around ears
- Under chin
- Around waist
- In belly button
- Between legs & crotch
- Behind knees
- Soles of feet
- Between toes
And don’t forget to give any outdoor kit AND the dog the once over.
You can buy special tick keys that help to remove the whole tick from both humans and animals but if you don’t have one, you can use tweezers. These helpful tips on how to remove a tick show how to ensure the whole tick is removed.
Tick bite infections can be very serious but aren’t always obvious. Contact you doctor if within three months of a tick bite you have new and otherwise unexplained :
- Rash often bullseye or dartboard
- Muscle / joint pain
Nettle Sting Relief
It is easy to brush off nettle stings as something minor and tell our kids not to make a fuss.
But they can be seriously painful and – it seems – more painful for kids.
Nettle sting contains some of the same pain transmitters as wasp stings. And nettle leaf needles keep releasing them whilst stuck in us.
So as with bees, the first thing to do is get the stingers out.
Removing Nettle Needles
Luckily there are easy ways to do that to stop the sting :
- Sluice loads of water over stings to wash away needles & venom
- Firmly but not too heavily run edge of a bank card over sting
- Apply sticky or plaster tape to sting and then rip off to pull them out
If you can find plantain or dock leaf, mush it up and apply as a salve to draw out the needles.
Nettle Sting Pain Relief
Once the nettle needles are removed we can tackle the venom left behind.
Now the venom contains a whole bunch of chemicals. No one remedy will knock them all out. But even knocking out one will cut the pain.
So apply any of these you have:
- Ice pack
- A natural antihistamine e.g. aloe vera, honey, yoghurt, coconut oil, basil or another natural antihistamine herb
- Something acidic e.g. Apple Cider Vinegar, lemon juice, to disable acetylcholine)
- Baking soda aka bicarb (to neutralise acids in the sting)
At home we can use any of these we have around but I do think it is worth taking a little aloe vera gel and witch hazel on outdoor adventures.
Or take your own DIY bug bite relief which can also relieve nettle stings.
DIY Bug Bite Relief
I am not a huge fan of essential oils but this quick bug bite relief uses just two I always have – lavender & tea tree – and is great for taking on outdoor adventures with kids …
There is a similar bug bite relief recipe here which is good for making your own rub on sticks …
Or if like me you have lavender in the garden, make this simple DIY repellent and relief balm with the flowers themselves :
More Home Sting & Bite Remedies
I really do hope these simple home remedies for stings and bites help you enjoy your summer outdoors.
For more help check out my other natural remedies and non toxic pest control tips and read these posts :
- Natural Antibiotics
- Natural Antihistamines
- Quick Remedies For Sunburn
- How To Get Rid Of Flies
- How To Get Rid Of Ants
- How To Repel Mosquitoes
- Natural Summer Hacks
And please do follow my Homemade Remedies board on Pinterest, it’s chock full of simple DIY relief for all sorts of common ailments …Photo: Young nettle leaves on white background ,Bee on yellow dandelion flower,Close-up, bee on a yellow dandelion by Marco Verch, balm by Tools Of Men, wasps by Herman Pijpers, tick, Bee Stinger yellow jack sting by M under Creative Commons 2.0
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