Natural Cures for Summer Bites

I'm something of a mosquito magnet. The reason, as I once learned while traveling through Mexico, that I've got something called "sangre dulce," which means sweet blood.

Whether the onslaught of bites is due sweet blood or not, I definitely spend a lot of time scratching huge, red welts on my arms and ankles during the summer months.

I'd use harmful, DEET-laden chemicals, but considering I don't like pesticides sprayed on my produce, I definitely don't want to apply the stuff directly to my skin.

When it comes to repellants, there are several natural alternatives. It may even be possible to prevent bites by eating foods that are loaded with lots of garlic and vitamin B.

Meanwhile, once the itch has kicked in, here are some all-natural first aid ideas -- most of which are probably already in your kitchen pantry.

  • Vinegar has been used over the ages to treat everything from rashes to stings, bruises, sunburn and heat exhaustion.
  • Baking soda—mixed into a paste with vinegar—draws out impurities and is an ancient remedy to calm and soothe the skin from bee stings, poison oak, poison ivy and such.
  • Cucumber has soothing enzymes that are released by mashed it into a cooling paste. It's good for bites, stings, sunburn and swelling. It also doubles as a snack!
  • Black tea contains quercetin which may have antiviral properties and can reduce swelling. It also makes for an easy cold compress on a bite.
  • Honey is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and it can be applied to blisters, cuts and scrapes. It also helps reduce inflammation, inhibit the spread of infection and keep the wound moist as it heals.
  • Yogurt has intrinsic cooling properties that offers relief for a sunburn. Odd as it sounds, try smoothing on a yogurt mask that contains live cultures, let it dry, and then gently rinse in cool water.
  • Zinc helps stimulate the body's healing process, so add zinc-rich foods to your diet if you're recovering from a summer burn or bite. Wheat germ, oysters, bran cereal, pumpkin seeds, cashews and pine nuts are all high in zinc.

 

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