Bug bites are an all too common occurrence, especially in the spring and summer seasons. Most bites are harmless, but they can cause unpleasant side effects such as itching, redness, swelling, and mild pain.
Before you reach for an over-the-counter treatment for your bug bites, why not consider a more natural approach in the form of essential oils? These potent oils are distilled from plants and have a long history of use for treating a wide variety of ailments, including bug bites.
Below, we list eight of the best essential oils that effectively heal bug bites – whether it be from a mosquito, ant, spider, flea or other annoying bug – and help provide relief from their symptoms.
8 Essential Oils For Bug Bites
1. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is an extremely versatile oil that is often used for relieving pain and swelling. When applied to the skin diluted in a carrier oil, it exerts a cooling sensation — precisely what you need after being bitten. Research shows that pregnant women with itchy skin experienced significant relief from symptoms when treated with peppermint oil.
In addition to stopping stinging, burning, and itching, peppermint essential oil also acts as an antimicrobial agent that reduces the risk of the bite becoming infected. These benefits mean that peppermint oil can speed up the healing process.
What’s more, the smell of peppermint can deter other bugs from coming near you!
Our Recommended Peppermint Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Peppermint Oil
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree is a potent antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal oil. Used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of skin complaints, it acts as an excellent remedy for bug bites.
Studies suggest that tea tree oil is a natural antihistamine, reducing the body’s allergic reactions and itching sensations. Many people who use tea tree oil for bites say it quickly alleviates swelling and itching, while the oil’s antibacterial properties prevent bacterial growth and reduce the risk of infection.
Other skin conditions that can be successfully treated with tea tree oil include acne and Athlete’s foot.
Our Recommended Tea Tree Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Tea Tree Oil
3. Lavender Essential Oil
Famous for its soothing and mood-enhancing effects, lavender essential oil is traditionally used to ease the pain of burns and bites.
Its analgesic properties reduce pain and calm the mind following a bug bite, with several studies reporting the painkilling properties of lavender oil. A 2013 study found that children who just had their tonsils removed could reduce their use of pain medications after inhaling lavender oil’s scent.
Similarly, adult migraine sufferers found that inhaling the scent of lavender for fifteen minutes reduced the severity of their pain.
Our Recommended Lavender Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Lavender Oil
4. Rosemary Essential Oil
With a distinctive woody fragrance and myriad of applications, rosemary essential oil is a must-have product to have on hand.
Research suggests that rosemary has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which means it quickly relieves the pain and swelling caused by nasty insect and bug bites. Its antimicrobial activity reduces your risk of a skin infection.
Our Recommended Rosemary Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Rosemary Oil
5. Camphor Essential Oil
Camphor oil is ideal for treating bites thanks to its antiseptic, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also acts as a mild insecticide.
To relieve incessant itching, camphor will gently warm your skin and mask your symptoms — perfect for those who suffer from frequent mosquito bites.
However, bites that burn or sting may get worse if you apply camphor oil, so proceed with caution.
Our Recommended Camphor Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Camphor Oil
6. Chamomile Essential Oil
Known as a calming plant, the essential oil distilled from chamomile can alleviate physical pain and reduce emotional distress.
Chamomile oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which stop the itching, burning, and swelling caused by bug bites. It may even be more effective than some over-the-counter treatments for skin irritation. When researchers compared a chamomile compress to a one-percent hydrocortisone cream, they found that twice-daily chamomile treatments significantly sped up the healing of lesions, while also reducing pain and swelling.
Our Recommended Chamomile Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Chamomile Oil
7. Lemongrass Essential Oil
Heal your bug bites and reduce the risk of getting an insect-borne disease thanks to lemongrass oil’s antimicrobial properties. This antiseptic oil also boasts anti-inflammatory effects.
You can also use lemongrass essential oil to enhance your mood, relax your muscles, relieve headaches, and repel insects — learn more here.
Our Recommended Lemongrass Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Lemongrass Oil
8. Basil Essential Oil
Boasting natural antimicrobial activity and rich in antioxidants, basil essential oil treats bug bites and other wounds. It helps to prevent infection, ease irritation, and speed up healing. As a natural insecticide, basil oil will also reduce the likelihood of getting bitten again!
Basil is also known for calming digestive distress, alleviating headaches, and easing nasal congestion. Learn more about using basil and making your own basil oil.
Our Recommended Basil Oil: 100% Pure Plant Therapy Basil Oil
How to Use Essential Oils to Heal Bug Bites
Essential oils can be used in different ways to treat the pain, itching, and inflammation associated with bug bites. The method you use will depend on your personal preference and the particular oil you choose to use.
Here are some general ways you can use essential oils for bug bites:
Direct Topical Application
Applying an essential oil topically means putting it on the skin. Most oils need to be diluted with another oil, known as a carrier oil, first. Others, however, can be applied undiluted.
Very potent oils — such as camphor, rosemary, and tea tree — should be diluted before putting on the skin. You can mix six drops of these oils with one tablespoon of carrier oil. Discover the best carrier oils here.
Lavender and chamomile oil can usually be applied undiluted to the bite. But if you have sensitive skin, you may wish to mix them with a carrier oil to reduce the risk of irritation.
Apply essential oils topically up to three times daily to heal bug bites. If you experience any adverse reaction, discontinue use immediately. Read our full guide on essential oil safety here.
Essential Oil Lotions and Sprays
As an alternative to direct application, you can mix healing essential oils into a lotion such as calamine lotion. Or, you can make your own bug bite spray or ointment from scratch. This DIY Bug Bite Stick with Lavender and Peppermint Oil is a brilliant option.
For a healing ointment, mix one or more essential oils with coconut oil or beeswax. For a more potent blend that draws out toxins, whip up a batch of this Black Drawing Salve.
To make a diluted spray, mix three drops of essential oil, three drops of carrier oil, and an ounce of water. Pour the mixture into a glass spray bottle and apply to bug bites for quick relief. Be sure to shake the bottle before each application.
People with bites in several areas of the body may experience widespread relief from itching, swelling, and pain by taking a bath with essential oils.
Add fifteen to thirty drops of oil to your bath and soak in it for up to thirty minutes. Very painful bites may require direct topical treatment after the bath.
Most essential oils must be applied to the skin to treat bug bites. However, research suggests that inhaling some oils (usually lavender) is enough to reduce your perception of pain.
Therefore, if you have very sensitive skin and pain is your only bug bite symptom, you may enjoy relief by inhaling lavender oil from the bottle or adding it to your essential oil diffuser.
Essential Oils To Avoid For Bug Bites
While the essential oils listed above are excellent for treating bug bites and their symptoms, not all essential oils are suitable for application to broken or irritated skin.
The following oils should be avoided for most bug bites:
- Bay laurel
Heal Bug Bites Naturally With Essential Oils
Bug bites are not just annoying, they can be painful and there’s always a risk they’ll get infected, especially if you scratch or pick at them. Essential oils are a fantastic natural remedy for bug bites. When used correctly, there are relatively few side effects associated with their use.
However, people with very sensitive skin may need to be extra cautious when using essential oils, especially if they have never used the oils before. Likewise, there are several guidelines that should be followed when using essential oils while pregnant. And, as with any treatment, you should refer any concerns you have to your doctor.
If a bug bite is very painful or is causing an allergic reaction (including symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, diarrhea, and vomiting), you should seek emergency treatment.
Only Use High Quality Essential Oils
There are some unscrupulous sellers of “essential oils” who are selling poor quality, or sometimes even fake, oils. We reveal how to choose high quality essential oils in our article here – as well as five brands you can trust.
Our top pick is Plant Therapy. They sell only 100% pure oils with free shipping and free returns inside the US. You can browse their entire selection of essential oils here.