The Best Natural Bug Bite Relief Products (including no see ums!)
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.
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!
#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.