A Buggy Situation: Animal-Free Bug Bite Relief
Updated: May 25
The weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. Many families are enjoying the outdoors while sheltering-in-place with walks and BBQ-ing (while maintaining social distancing of course). The change in seasons brings back memories of outdoor revelry...but also bugs.
Despite our best bug spray efforts, bug bites are sometimes unavoidable. It's a good idea to have some bug bite relief tucked away in your medicine cabinet to decrease scratching and skin irritation, but animal-free bug bite relief is very rare! Many formulas include glycerin and beeswax. The VeganMed team is just as susceptible to bug bites as the rest of you, so here are a few of our favorite products.
Please speak to your healthcare provider and discontinue use if you have an adverse reaction to bug bite relief.
Teresa Henry (you may remember her from our previous Meet the Team blog post) is an avid outdoors person. She regularly hikes and kayaks, and she is no stranger to bug bites. Teresa always stocks two bug bite remedies: Benadryl Itch Relief Stick and baking soda.
Biting bugs, such as mosquitoes, inject saliva containing anticoagulants, proteins, and histamines into the wound. The histamines create the itchiness, swelling, and inflammation that make bug bites unbearable.
Products like the Benadryl Itch Relief Stick use diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) to combat this inflammatory reaction (Healthwise Staff 2019). Benadryl's Itch Relief Stick contains glycerin, which is often derived from animal sources, but VeganMed's team of experts has verified with the manufacturer that the glycerin for this product is animal-free!
Teresa also carries a small bag of baking soda in her first aid kit. Baking soda is an alkaline product that can help neutralize the acidic pH in the bite (Ryther 2012). Baking soda is a common ingredient for many bug bite remedies (DerSarkissian 2017), but Teresa's favorite recipe is homemade:
Teresa's Bug Bite Remedy
1. Mix one part baking soda and three parts water to make a baking soda paste.
2. Rub the paste onto the affected area and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Wash the baking soda off with water (DerSarkissian 2017).
If you are making the paste at a campsite, wash off the paste at least 200 feet away from water sources (REI).
Dani Pender, who also enjoying hitting the trails, prefers to use ammonia on her bug bites. Like baking soda, ammonia neutralizes the pH of the bite, providing relief. She'll often carry a stick of After Bite Advanced Formula in her bag. Combining an antihistamine with ammonia, baking soda, and tea tree oil provides fast-acting pain and irritation relief. After Bite is less messy than a small bag of baking soda and easier to apply.
Don't let bug bites ruin your summer! Try one of these products and #goanimalfree!
Disclaimer: The product and/or medical information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.
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DerSarkissian , Carol. “How Can Baking Soda Treat Insect Bites and Stings?” WebMD, WebMD, 29 Oct. 2017, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/qa/how-can-baking-soda-treat-insect-bites-and-stings.
Healthwise Staff. “Itching Relief.” Itching Relief | Michigan Medicine, 30 Oct. 2019, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa67251.
REI. “Leave No Trace Principles.” Leave No Trace Principles | REI Co-Op, www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/leave-no-trace.html.
Ryther, M. B. The Dynamic Duo: Vinegar and Baking Soda. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.