In summer, a woman with a mosquito bite remedy at the ready is a woman who will be loved by all, right? Whether your child is suffering from itchy bug bites or other summer skin woes — a poison ivy rash, or dried out skin, perhaps — these natural cures can go a long way toward healing. In fast, these DIY home remedies are what actual doctors “prescribe” to their own children to help them feel better fast (and yes, they work on adults, too!).
For bug bites: Tea tree oil. “When the kids were growing up, they’d play in the yard and get lots of mosquito bites,” remembers mother-of-two Cynthia Bailey, M.D., president and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology in Sebastopol, California. “My go-to was always tea tree oil, which decreases the histamine release and reduces the swelling and itch.” It’s also antibacterial and antifungal which helps protect against infection in case the bite gets scratched. “Use just a drop of undiluted oil directly on each bite,” says Dr. Bailey. If you’re applying to a larger swath of skin, however, dilute the oil in equal parts a carrier oil, like coconut oil. “This will help avoid irritation,” she says. “It relieves the itch quickly. The whole family uses it still!,” she says. Bonus: The added coconut oil is an antimicrobial which further helps keep possible infection at bay. Dr. Bailey’s favorite tea tree oil? Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil ($7.13 for 15 ml.)
For swim-ravaged skin: A healing duo. “The pool’s harsh chemicals do a number on my kids’ skin in the summer,” says Taz Bhatia, M.D., a mother of two and author of The 21-Day Belly Fix. “To help, in a bowl I mix 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel with 1 tablespoon of shea butter, then smooth it on their dry, cracked skin once in the morning and once after bath.” Aloe is an anti-inflammatory and an antibacterial that’s packed with skin-soothing vitamin E. At the same time, shea butter is a natural anti-inflammatory as well, and it contains vitamins and essential fatty that are especially good at healing the skin barrier. The best part: “The kids love it! It smells to good!,” says Dr. Bhatia. “And their skin is always back to smooth within a day or two.”
For poison ivy itch: Cucumbers. “When my kids got poison ivy after a summer hiking adventure, I used the combo of witch hazel, baking soda paste, and fruit to ease the itch” says mother-of-two, Kyrin Dunston, M.D., author of Cracking the Bikini Code: 6 Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss Success. First, she soaked (then squeezed) a cotton ball with witch hazel and placed it on the affected area. “I held it on for about a minute,” says Dr. Dunston. “But if it’s really troublesome, you can leave it for an hour or more, just secure it with a Band-Aid.” (Witch hazel contains natural chemicals that reduce inflammation and swelling.) Next, Dunston mixed just enough baking soda and water to make a paste and applied it to the rash. “The paste helps to alleviate acidity, which quells itching due to inflammation,” she says. Finally, after the paste dried and flaked off, Dunston placed cucumber slices (banana peels work, too) to the area for about 5 minutes. “They’re cool and sooth the itch, and the combo worked great to help the kids quickly,” she says.
This story first appeared in our print magazine.