The Best Natural Bug Bite Relief Products (including no see ums!)
You can’t wait for warm weather and sunshine… only to be carried off by the bugs. What to do? From bentonite clay to essential oils and more, these are the best natural bug bite relief products I’ve found! They even provide relief for no see um bites!
It happens to me every summer…
I can’t wait for the warmer weather and sunshine. I spend the first warm-ish day outside for as long as possible.
And then the inevitable happens… the bugs start swarming. Sigh.
Minnesota is kinda famous for bugs, particularly mosquitoes. I’ve seen bumper stickers and t-shirts joking about the mosquito being the state bird.
However, for me, the no see ums are the WORST. I’m extremely allergic to them. 🙁
Awful, Awful No See Um Bites
Where I come from in Texas, no see ums are not a thing. I had never even heard of them until moving up here 2 years ago. Then, I got bit… and now, no see ums are something I’m actually afraid of!
I’ve researched and read forums, and no one seems to be able to find a repellent that actually keeps no see ums away. Even the DEET-based repellents don’t deter them!
For most people, a no see um bite means a red dot that’s pretty itchy for a day or 2.
For me, it’s a totally different story. First of all, I can’t even feel the bite; and no see ums are so tiny (1/16 of an inch) that I can’t really see them either.
I don’t even know I’ve been bit until several hours later when the bite site begins to swell and get hard. A few hours after that, the redness spreads and I get oozing blisters around the bite site.
I’ve had bites on my legs that were so hard, red, and swollen that it was painful for me to walk (see image above)!
Despite using activated charcoal, essential oils, aloe, and even conventional creams like hydrocortisone, Benadryl, and calamine lotion, it takes a solid 48 hours for the swelling and hardness to subside just enough to make walking comfortable.
So, this is my experience — the best natural bug bite relief products I’ve found to alleviate the itching, pain, and swelling caused by the bites of mosquitoes, black/sand flies, and no see ums.
Disclaimer: these products works REALLY well on mosquito and black/sand fly bites! Unfortunately, for me, they work minimally well or provide only temporary relief for no see um bites. They do alleviate a lot of the pain and itching, but only time works to reduce swelling, in my experience. I’d LOVE to know if you’ve found something that really works to draw the poison of no see um bites out and reduce hardness, swelling, redness, and pain more quickly!
#1 — Bentonite Clay Paste
I keep several tubes of this with me at all times from May through August. There’s one on my bedside table, another one in my purse, and another one in our bathroom.
To draw out poison and reduce itching quickly, bentonite clay paste is literally a lifesaver. It is especially effective on mosquito and black/sand fly bites.
For no see um bites, I have to reapply several times a day, yet it does provide temporary relief — especially from the itching. Often, I wake up in the middle of the night scratching, so having the tube on the nightstand is really handy.
You can make your own by mixing bentonite clay with water to form a paste; however, the pre-mixed tubes are much less wasteful and less messy in my opinion.
#2 — Arnica Gel
When a bite — especially a no see um bite — swells and becomes super painful, this stuff brings effective relief. I like to apply bentonite clay paste directly to the bite site for itching, allow it to dry, then apply arnica gel over the entire painful, swollen area.
My son used to react horribly to mosquito bites, and this gave him enough relief to keep his hands away from his bites. Now, with no see ums, it doesn’t take away all the pain. (I haven’t found anything that does that.) It does take the edge off, though.
#3 — Tea Tree + Peppermint Essential Oils
When you’re desperate, sometimes you just start slathering stuff over your bites and praying for something, anything to work.
That’s how I discovered the combination of tea tree and peppermint essential oils to be really soothing for bites.
The tea tree is a natural disinfectant and even provides some itching relief; the peppermint oil cools and soothes. I did not find this to be especially effective long-term for no see um bites, yet it does provide some temporary relief. Additionally, these antibacterial essential oils will help prevent infection caused by scratching bites.
For mosquito bites and black fly bites, however, this remedy alone works wonders!
For quick application, combine 25 drops of each oil in a 5mL roller bottle and fill with a carrier oil. Then roll on and around the bite site as often as needed.
#4 — Activated Charcoal
Open a capsule of activated charcoal and mix with just enough water to make a paste. Use a Q-Tip to spread over the bite site — especially if you know the biting insect or spider is poisonous.
Once again, this works minimally on no see um bites, and I did not see any reduction in redness or swelling on my bites. However, it does work remarkably well for bee or wasp stings, mosquito bites, and spider bites!
#5 — Plantain Poultice
The first time I got a no see um bite, my friend went out to my yard, picked some plantain, chewed it up, and rubbed it on the bite. I didn’t even know what plantain was at the time!
And it did provide some immediate relief. Since then, we’ve used chewed-up-and-spit-out plantain on burns, cuts, and other bug bites. It provides more relief for those issues than for no see um bites.
A plantain poultice might work wonders for YOUR no see um bites, if you don’t react the same way I do…
How to make a quick plantain poultice? Pick a fresh plantain leaf from your yard, chew it up and release its juices, spit it into your hand and make a ball, rub it over the bite, and cover with a band-aid.
If you already have dried plantain leaf, you can make a “tea” with the leaves and use the wet leaves as the poultice. Or swab the bite with a cotton ball dipped in the tea.
#6 — Ice & Elevation
In addition to the above products, I always ice and elevate no see um bites because they swell so much — particularly the ones on my legs.
If you are able to do this for longer periods of time, this actually provides the most relief! The bites don’t itch when they’re cold! Obviously, this isn’t effective if you need to be up and around or go to work. So, ice and elevate as often as you can and use the other remedies in the meantime.
I’ve tried other homeopathic creams and tablets, including apis mell, without success. Even over-the-counter Benadryl capsules don’t alleviate the swelling, heat, or redness of my no see um bites. 🙁
These are just the best natural bug bite products that have worked for ME.
I’m from TN & had never heard of these things before this Summer. I thought I had a flea infestation but started seeing what looked like larvae around my kitchen sink and counters. Fleas do not gravitate toward moisture. I have a hand-held bug zapper that was zapping something I could not see, especially on anything damp or that had any body/pet odor associated with it. I started putting my dirty clothes, towels that I used to shower/wash with, and bed clothes in plastic bags with Borax sprinkled in them until I could wash. I bought some Neem Oil (which… Read more »
Wow, I’ve never had an infestation like you’re describing. Pretty sure those aren’t noseeums.
Hi, I just wondered if you’ve ever tried using homeopathic remedies for those bites of yours! I have had the most amazing results with homeopathics for the past 10 or 12 years, and as soon as I saw your bites and read what you said about nothing really working; I thought maybe you haven’t tried this yet. If not, here is a really good article that can help you choose which one to try first! Note: My experience with homeopathics is the right remedy ALWAYS works. If it doesn’t work, it’s the wrong remedy. I usually take a dose and… Read more »
Actually, yes! My naturopath did some constitutional homeopathy with me, and this summer (our 5th here in MN) I reacted the least! I can’t remember the exact remedies, but I am a true believer in homeopathy!
I’m so glad! Check out that article by Dana Scott and run it by your naturopath. I’m guessing you could react even less!
Happy bug free days!
Okay, I used to live in Minnesota. I realize that isn’t going to happen. So, just happy days to you!
Jeez, i just realized I gave you a link to dog homeopathy, which works for humans too but it wasn’t the link I meant to give you, lol. https://www.homeopathycenter.org/bug-bitesinsect-bites is a better link.
Also, thank you for all these ideas. Much appreciated as I am covered in noseeum bites, much to my dismay. The tea tree oil (which I mixed with lavender and colloidal silver bc i ran out of peppermint oil earlier this week) helped a lot.
Why does this itch get SO much worse at night?????? Ugh.
Ugh, I know. The itch sometimes wakes you up, doesn’t it??
I was covered with no see ums on legs and arms. The itching would not stop for 3 weeks. Then rubbed Allimax cream on each bite. Finally I started healing and within a day or two, I had no more itching.
I didn’t look all the way through comments to see if anyone mentioned vanilla but that’s what I have used for years to repel gnats – which I guess to also be
no see ums by another name.
I usually sprinkle some cheap vanilla (imitation is fine here) on a “scarf” around my neck, on an old hat band, and/or on an old t-shirt I’m wearing. It WILL stain so don’t use it on good clothing. I’ve also used it directly on my skin.
This has been very successful for me.
This is a GREAT tip and I will try it for sure!
I was just given Bio Extract WO oil by Systemic Formulas and it seems to be really helping with the itch so far. I’ll see tomorrow how much swelling and redness I have
Here’s a recipe from my Mom that may help, but please read it thoroughly. …GRANDMA’S Sulfur & Lard Ointment (__NOT recommended for anyone allergic to sulfur__) This stuff is pretty darn amazing!! ….affectionately called: “ Old Yeller ” INGREDIENTS: • 1 pound Sublimed Sulfur • 3+/- pounds Lard (you can also use Vaseline…I prefer the lard – neither requires refrigeration) (ratio: ADULTS: I usually mix 1 pound Sulfur to 3 lbs lard CHILDREN: cut recipe: 1/2 pound Sulfur to 2+/- lbs lard because of their sensitive skin. Soften or Liquefy LARD in a separate pot on the stove, let it… Read more »
The no-seeums are out in SW Florida now and I am already getting bites. I got out my essential oils and am putting on Basil this evening as I have to go to the store, I hope it works. I have three commercially sold No Seeum sprays but most of them smell pretty awful, and it seems to be more of a husband repellant than a no-seeum solution for me. I hate these things. Maybe I will add the eucalyptus and lemongrass before i venture out.
I am trying lemon, lavender and peppermint essential oils mixed together straight in a roller ball and I think it’s helping.
I am currently covered in no see um bites. Miserable! I’m trying lavender oil full strength and it helps a little. I’m wondering if you have any up dates on some of the essential oils you were thinking of trying.
No, no see um season hasn’t started for us yet, so I’ll be experimenting again this summer. The bentonite clay paste really helps with itching, especially at night! So sorry… I know you’re miserable!
Ok, I know this is going to sound crazy and counter-intuitive…but you have to try it, because it totally works for relieving the itch (of anything… bug bites, poison ivy/oak rash, etc). My sister is the one who told me, after she ended up with poison ivy all over her body. I had mosquito bites all over my legs, and like you, I get huge welts…this is the only thing that works. I use it with my kids too, and they hate it (because its hot), but still beg me to do it because it works so well!! You run… Read more »
Hey, nothing is crazy except how much these bites react with my body! I’m willing to try it!
The “no see umms” are actually biting midges. There’s not a lot of info out there regarding people, but it’s a common problem in the equestrian community. Biting midges can cause an allergic reaction in horses called sweet itch. There is a lot of info out on it, and honestly most of the preventatives and remedies used on the horses would work for people as well. Common chemical repellents are permethrin (good old fashioned Nix head lice treatment) and benzyl benzoate (Scabada). Because midges and mosquitoes are in different families, mosquito repellent isn’t going to be effective. Instead look for… Read more »
Thanks for this info, Casey! I grew up with horses, and I remember feeling so sorry for them when they would be covered in mosquito bites! 🙁 I haven’t heard of biting midges, however. You make a good point about mosquitoes and no see ums being in different families! I hadn’t thought about that! Personally, I prefer not to use chemical repellents. We use natural repellents and remedies whenever possible. So are sulfur, lavender oil, and aloe effective repellents or just remedies?
I live on the coast and out here we call them “sand fleas.” I would assume that the aloe would just be a remedy, but the sulfur and lavender oil should serve both purposes. I know lavender and garlic help keep mosquitos at bay, whether ingested or applied topically. I think it’s a safe bet sulfur and lavender could be used in the same way.
WoW. That’s some reaction to bites!
What do you do to deter bites to start with?
Ouch.. Definitely plantain and so many other ideas.. as mentioned..
TIP:. Avoid fruit consumption when going for a walk or gardening.. Fruit makes us juicy and attractive!
Love to hear your anti-bug bite plan.. that’s the start.. Will share my recipe..
I use essential oils to repel, without much luck, honestly. Yes, the reaction is AWFUL. I don’t eat fruit, actually. Or I rarely eat fruit, and when I do, it’s only berries, lemons, limes, and the occasional orange. My ND is exploring some anti-inflammatory treatments with me. We both feel like the bite reactions may actually be evidence of an autoimmune inflammatory response.
We always keep bentonite clay on hand for bug bites! Sometimes I add lavender in with it, which helps with any itching, too. And yes, plantain works so well! Great tips!
Where do you find bentonite clau?
You can find it on Amazon. This is the brand I use: https://amzn.to/2wv3DVr Also, many health food stores carry it.
With all your natural cures, remedies and essential oils, have you tried to find a decent repellent that might help some in preventing the bites in the first place. Not very pleasant, but sulfur powder sprinkled around the ankles keeps chiggers at bay. Here in Central Texas we have bumper crop of the little devils.
Love you dear!
Yes, I’ve tried so many repellents! But even OFF w/ DEET doesn’t repel the no see ums. 🙁 We don’t have chiggers up here though, thankfully. Love you, too, Dad!
Howdy from South Texas. I was just told soaking in tub with Pine-Sol would help the no see ums, which I am assuming are chiggers! So, I was wondering if Pine-Sol helps maybe Pine Essential Oil is a possibility to helping the itching. I also swell up and they stay for many days on me as well. I am going to try it!
Hi Kathy Lee! I wouldn’t ever bathe in a tub with Pine Sol, but you may be right about the pine essential oil. I have found white fir EO, but I haven’t added it to our bug repellent or tried it on my bites! I’ll try it now… I’ve got a swollen, itchy one on my ankle right now!