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DIY Remedies for Stings, Bites, Burns, and Scratches

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If you work or play in the great outdoors you're going to get dinged up, bitten, scratched, stung or burned. Here are some DIY remedies to deal with those owies.

Nature is a blast, no doubt about it. But there's also no doubt that nature carries with it a few dangers.

Not the least of which are those minor dings that our bodies take at the hands of bugs and biting insects, sharp and pointy things, and even the sun. Here are a few easy DIY remedies to deal with those small aches and pains.

Mosquitoes are omnipresent and an expected hazard of working or playing outdoors. Some folks react more noticeably to mosquito bites than do others, but nevertheless they are a hassle for all of us. Here are a few natural remedies for the bite of those tiny blood sucking demons.

  • Basil: Pick a couple of leaves of basil off the porch and rub them onto the bite to relieve itching. Basil leaves have antimicrobial properties.
  • Aloe: Aloe seems to help everything, and mosquito bites are no different. Break a leaf and rub the juice that's inside onto the bite. You should feel instant relief.
  • Peppermint: Apply a few drops of peppermint oil (or almost any essential oil really) to a little water and apply to the bite. You can also put a little dab of peppermint toothpaste directly onto the bite. Peppermint is antibacterial and antifungal.
  • Aspirin: Crush an aspirin tablet and mix with a little water to form a paste. Apply to the bite for relief. Aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid, which is anti-inflammatory.
  • Honey: Honey is naturally antimicrobial. Apply a dab of the sticky stuff to the bite.
  • Vinegar: If you're covered with bites add a couple cups of apple cider vinegar to a bath and soak yourself. Vinegar is another one of those multi-remedy substances.

DIY remedies

Bees and hornets can ruin your day (bees less so, as they tend to attack only if seriously provoked). But a bee, hornet or wasp sting can be serious business if you're allergic. If you're not allergic they can still hurt like the dickens. Here's a sampling of quick DIY remedies.

  • Baking Soda: Quickly add a little water (or better yet, a little vinegar) to a small amount of baking soda to make a loose paste. Rinse the stung area with cold water and apply the paste. You should begin to feel some relief immediately.
  • Rhubarb: If you get stung and have a rhubarb plant nearby you're in luck. Break off a stalk and squeeze the juice out and onto the sting. Rhubarb is an astringent, which means that it contracts body tissues. You should feel relief in two or three minutes.
  • Plantain: Plantain is a common, edible weed. We see it growing through the cracks in our sidewalks. Identify it and grab as many leaves as you can. You'll want to get the juice out of them, so if you have a food processor, great! Toss them in and pulse into a mash and apply to the stung area. If you're away from home place the leaves in a plastic bag and crush them with a spoon until you get a mash. Or simply rinse them and chew them up in your mouth. Press the poultice onto the sting, cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes or so.
  • Ice: Apply ice directly to the sting in order to reduce swelling. Keep it on the infected area for as long as you can stand it.

Note: If, following a sting, you have trouble breathing, you get dizzy, you feel extreme pain, your face gets very red, or you begin to panic, you may be having an allergic reaction. Seek professional medical help immediately.

DIY remedies

Sunburn is a drag, that's for sure. At best it will make you uncomfortable. At worst it can cause you to become very ill. Usually time is what it will take for the symptoms to dissipate. But there are some things you can do immediately to relieve the pain. Remember, use a sunscreen before you go out in the sun.

  • Aloe: The healing properties of aloe are rarely more appreciated than when you're sunburned. Break the plant and apply directly to the burned areas. You can also buy bottles of aloe gel, which are always a good idea to have on hand. Keep applying as long as it hurts.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Mix one part apple cider vinegar to one part water. Add to a clean spray bottle and spray onto the affected area. Or add a good deal of apple cider vinegar to a cool bath and soak in it for a while.
  • Baking Soda: Depending on how big an area of your body got sunburned, you can make a loose paste with baking soda and water, or add it to a bath for soaking (or do both). Because it is alkaline, baking soda can be very soothing to a burned area.
  • Oatmeal: Fill a sock with oatmeal (Quaker Oats will do just fine), tie off the top so that no oatmeal escapes. Fill a tub with tepid to cool water and squeeze the heck out of the sock, several times, to release the polysaccharides in the oatmeal. They will coat and help to heal your skin. Get into the bath for a moderate soak (don't stay in too long, lest you overdo it and end up drying your skin out).
  • Yogurt: Use plain, probiotic yogurt. Gently apply the yogurt to the affected area. Let sit for five or ten minutes and then gently rinse off with cool water or milk.
DIY remedies
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Scrapes, scratches and 'bark rash' or 'road rash' present more of a painful inconvenience than any real danger. Wash the affected area with soap and water, and apply a bandage to keep it clean.

  • Chamomile: Chamomile has wonderful healing properties. It contains flavonoids and essential oils, which can penetrate deeply into the skin. You can crush the flowers into a basin of water and insert the scraped or scratched area into it. You can also make a paste of crushed flowers and aloe juice and apply to the spot.
  • Aloe: Yep, aloe to the rescue again. Wash the area with soap and water, and apply aloe as a topical treatment. Your healing time will decrease with the application.
  • Thyme: Bring a cup of water to a boil and add a spoonful of thyme leaves. Let steep until cool. Apply the cool tea to the area (after washing of course). Thyme has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
  • Limes: Limes have an antibiotic effect and kill bacteria. Squeeze some lime juice onto the wound and allow to air dry.
DIY remedies

These are just a few of the many natural DIY remedies for the owies that we tend to get when in the outdoors. Next time you get bitten, burned, stung or scratched, give you refrigerator or pantry a look before heading directly to the pharmaceutical aisle.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

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NEXT: Biting Insects to Watch out for in the Field: Part I

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DIY Remedies for Stings, Bites, Burns, and Scratches