I was going to wait to post this next week, but I just can’t take it any longer…
I don’t know about you, but we’ve been getting eaten alive by mosquitoes lately. Seriously, these little creatures are out to get us, me and my son, namely. There aren’t many things that I despise more than mosquitoes.
I have been looking into safer and more natural ways to ward off those nasty critters, and came up with quite a few tips:
- As they are attracted to the carbon dioxide we give off from breathing, anything we can use to mask it helps. This means, try not to run, as it causes you to breathe more heavily, thus giving off more CO2. Sweat also attracts them. Eating raw garlic, if you can stand it, actually does a good job at masking your scent.
- Avoid going outdoors during their peak hours, dusk and dawn.
- Use a mosquito net.
- If it’s not too hot outside, wear (loose-fitting): long-sleeves, pants, hat, and socks. Avoid bright colors that mosquitoes can mistake for flowers. Whites and earth tones/camouflage are best.
- Eliminate standing water.
- Plant deterrents such as rosemary, geraniums, citrosa, marigolds, or eucalyptus in your yard.
- Avoid eating bananas.
- Avoid scented personal care products and perfumes.
- Stay in windy areas or create your own wind with a fan.
- Mosquitoes prefer heat, humidity, shade and low areas, so go out on sunny, dry and cooler days in higher locations/terrains when possible.
- Start a fire (sit back and roast some marshmallows while you’re at it!). Mosquitoes dislike smoke and the scent of smoke in your hair and clothes.
Did all of these but are still having issues with the skeeters?
Use safer or more natural bug repellents. I recently picked up Badger’s Anti-Bug Balm at the store and have absolutely loved it. It’s rated zero on Skin Deep, so that’s a plus, and the ingredients are all natural. And yes, it works!
Or you could try making your own! When making your own solution, make sure you use a skin-safe carrier oil or alcohol (not water) to dilute the essential oil(s) to about 5-10% potency. (I have read that the carrier oil actually aids in deterring mosquitoes as well, because they dislike grease.)
Carriers include olive oil (my preference), jojoba oil, almond oil, sunflower oil, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, or other food-grade oils.
Effective essential oils are cinnamon oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil, and catnip (by themselves or in combination). Even garlic and onions work! Some essential oils, like tea tree oil or lavender oil, can be applied straight onto your skin.
There are a couple of issues with making your own repellent: They are not waterproof or sweat-proof (reapplication is necessary), and their effectiveness wears off after storing (even when stored in dark, amber bottles). So it’s best to mix only in small amounts.
Try mixing together in this ratio: 1 tablespoon of a carrier with 5-10 drops of an essential oil that work well against mosquitoes. Mix or shake well in a bottle, then apply liberally, paying special attention to your wrists, ears, neck, forehead, armpits, behind your knees, ankles, and tops of feet (where your blood vessels are close to the surface).
But what do you do if you’ve already been bitten and are itching like crazy?
If you are allergic (like my son), you get huge, hard welts at the site of the bite. I just simply dab a bit of tea tree oil while compressing and rubbing outwards from the site (to dissipate the toxins), and within a few minutes the itch disappears.
In the past, I have also tried a thick baking soda (my other favorite go-to ingredient in the house) and water paste. After application, I bandage the area and keep it on overnight. When he wakes up, the area is no longer a welt.
Another good remedy is vinegar. My grandmother keeps suggesting this one, but I have yet to try it. Use a cotton ball dipped in vinegar to cover the bite area. Cover with a bandaid and leave on overnight.
I have also heard that if you are dehydrated it can heighten the effects of the toxins. So, drink up!
As always, consult your physician before trying any of these or other natural remedies (especially with infants and young children), and always watch for allergic reactions. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your physician prior to using essential oils.