As annoying as they are, insects are essential to the environment. They help pollinate plants, disperse seeds, cycle nutrients, maintain soil structure, control populations of other organisms, and are a food source for other animals. And yet, no one likes an itchy, painful, puffy sting – especially kids who can’t help but scratch them! While bugs and their bites are inevitable, you can lessen your chances of getting eaten alive by mosquitos and other pests (sans toxic chemicals!). Don’t let the creepy crawlies keep you and your family from enjoying the great outdoors!
Here are tips For Preventing Bug Bites Naturally:
#1 Get Dressed Up.
If you're headed on a hike, trip to the lake, or playing outside at dusk, use clothing as a shield. Protect that precious skin by covering up as much as possible. Go for lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks, and closed shoes. If the bugs are really pestering your littles? Pull their socks over their pants, tuck in their shirts, and consider buying some EPA-approved insect repellent clothing. In addition, you can drape a breathable mesh cover over a playpen, carseat, or stroller to shoo away the bugs from your baby. (Emphasis on the words “breathable” and “mesh.” Anything thicker will be too hot for your summertime sweetie!)
Believe it or not, bugs have fashion sense as well – they’re attracted to floral prints and bright patterns, so go easy on the flair.
#2 Fan Them Out.
Bugs and the breeze don’t mix. So, if you’re near an electrical outlet, plug in a fan to keep mosquitos at bay.
#3 Give a Nod to Nature.
Certain scents act as natural mosquito repellants. While essential oils like thyme and peppermint might smell ahh-mazing to us humans, the bugs aren’t buying it. That’s why we formulated Hello Bello’s bug spray with a little nature. Our ingredient list includes:
- Citronella Oil – Citronella oil is widely used as a fragrance and flavoring agent throughout the world. It’s also a plant-based insect repellent that has been registered for this use in the US since 1948.
- Lemongrass Oil – A study published in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences shows that lemongrass oil is comparable to commercial mosquito repellents.
- Thyme Oil – Thyme oil is derived from thyme, a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It's often used in aromatherapy and cooking, but it's also a natural insect repellent.
- Cedarwood Oil – Cedarwood oil is derived from different types of conifer trees like pine and cypress. It's also a natural insect repellent.
- Peppermint Oil – Research shows that peppermint oil is natural and effective against mosquitos and flying insects.
Note: Whether you apply bug spray or not, you’re always at risk for tick bites and mosquito-borne diseases when heading outside. Brush up on your local public health guidelines for specific recommendations.
#4 Watch Out For Water.
Bugs especially like to hang out (aka breed) near water. Look for any area where water pools up (like in a bucket, pot, or plastic covers) and take care of it asap. (Eco-Tip: Use the water in your garden or potted plants so it doesn’t go to waste!)
#5 Do Your Research.
When planning for your next vacay, research the insects native to your destination. Look up the CDC Destinations page to see what vaccines or medicines you may need, and to read up on any current health risks.
#6 Choose the Right Repellent.
If you want a more natural way to banish bugs, look for a formula that’s plant-based and DEET-free. Why avoid DEET? While the EPA has approved DEET for use in insect repellent, it’s a common skin irritant.
We might be biased, but our mosquito repellent is lab-tested, hypoallergenic, effective against those mini monsters, AND a winner of the “Best Skin Care for Kids 2022” award given by Parents magazine.
Note: If you’re planning a camping trip or long hike in the woods, check with local public health guidelines. DEET isn’t generally necessary for a day at the park, but it might be prudent to use if you’re going more hard-core outdoorsy and there are Lyme Disease or other insect-borne disease warnings.
#7 Give Them Space.
Mosquitos get the munchies during certain times of day – most often dusk and dawn. If your kid’s a mosquito magnet, consider staying inside during those peak hours.
#8 Protect With Plants.
Rethink your planting plans! Like essential oils, some plants are natural insect deterrents. Experiment with citronella, lavender, lemongrass, lemon thyme, scented geraniums, marigolds, and basil. Just remember – there is no foolproof solution for avoiding a bug bite. While plants might lessen buzzing around your house, these plants probably won’t keep them out of your yard completely.
#9 Go Fragrance-Free.
Make yourself a lot less attractive to mosquitos by avoiding scented products – lotions, perfumes, hairsprays, and body wash. Unless you’re using a mosquito repellent with bug-banishing essential oils (see #3), fragrance-free toiletries will keep you from alluring unwanted critters.
#10 Apply It Right.Yes, you can save yourself from a sunburn and bug bites. For best results, slather on the sunscreen first, then add mosquito repellent over top. And while it’s OK to spray mosquito repellent directly on your kiddo’s legs, arms, feet, and tummy, take extra caution when applying it to their face and neck. Spray it onto your hands and then rub it on their face, avoiding their eyes, lips, and any owies or irritation.
Bonus At-Home Remedies For When You’ve Been Bit:
- For swelling, apply an ice cube (wrapped in a thin towel) or ice pack directly onto the puffy skin.
- Cover the bite with toothpaste. The minty flavor plus the astringent ingredients create a cooling sensation that can relieve the itch. Plus, once it dries, it’s a lot less tempting to scratch and touch the owie.
- Dab on some honey (and top it with a band-aid to avoid a sticky mess) – it contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can tackle pain, swelling and wound healing.
- Add a few drops of water to some baking soda to create a paste. Smooth it over the itchy area and let it dry. This alkaline solution can help neutralize the skin’s pH, taming inflammation.
- Apple Cider Vinegar has tons of skin benefits, including an at-home remedy for bug bites! Mix equal parts ACV and water, then Soak a cotton ball in the solution, and dab it on the bites. Reapply as needed. It works similarly to the baking soda by balancing the pH of the affected area.
- Aloe Vera works great for sunburns and painful bug bites. Grab some gel from the bathroom cupboard or split open the leaves of a plant, and apply it to the skin to alleviate redness.
What are your go-to methods for preventing bug bites, or treating the skin after they strike? Please share with us in the comments!