Natural Cures for Stings and Prevention

Travel Talk

Stings can only get better!

Don’t let your holiday be spoilt by an unpleasant sting. Our travelling pharmacist has some excellent suggestions for prevention and cure.


Most can be treated without referral to a doctor. The only exception would be a sting in the mouth when immediate medical attention is needed. Suck an ice cube or sip cold water until a medical person is found.

Wasps don’t leave a sting whereas bees do. Try and remove the bee sting with tweezers. Never ever squeeze the poison sac – it will only make the situation worse. The correct method is to grip the base of the sting as close to the skin as is possible. A bank card is ideal to use to scrape out the sting, or use a fingernail.

Bee stingOnce removed apply one drop of neat Chamomile three times a day for up to four days . Lavender oil can be applied neat too as can Tea Tree oil. Tea Tree is excellent – it will soothe and calm the itch and ease the pain. Acting as an antiseptic it will stop any infection from developing too. And it’s widely available in all pharmacies.

Holding an ice cube over the sting will reduce pain. Bizarrely a slice of fresh raw Onion will ease the sting also. So too would a Tomato. Simply dab on Tomato juice or apply raw slices. Both contain substances that prevent prostaglandin release so stopping pain from developing. Slices of red pepper also work, acting as a counter irritant – taking your mind off the problem.

Bee stings are soothed by applying an alkaline substance e.g. Sodium Bicarb made into a paste. Wasp stings respond better to acidic preparations like vinegar. Remember B… bee for bicarb. A blob of honey onto a Bee sting helps too. Making a paste from Aspirin tablets, crushed and wet, stops itching.

Homoeopathic preparations are excellent APIS 6 can be used for any bite. MEDUSA 6 is especially good for jellyfish stings. By the way wash jellyfish stings with vinegar, water may make things worse. Take HYPERICUM for horse fly bites. BACH RESCUE REMEDY is a popular choice too.


Prevention is always better than cure. There is no 100% guarantee to stop being bitten, but the following preventative measures are useful.

Wear long sleeves and pants. Try to cover arms, legs and ankles. Avoid dark clothes. Avoid perfumes, aftershave and other fragrances that will attract insects.

Mosquito bed netApply a repellent to exposed skin – seek advice from a friendly pharmacist.  Use a mosquito bed net at night. Pick a medium to fine mesh and tuck firmly under the mattress.

Remember   insects are more active in the early evening so take extra precautions at this time. Try taking Vitamin B1 100mg three times daily or a general Vitamin B complex. ZINC 60mg daily is effective. Both are secreted through the pores and repel pests. Equally good eat Onions and Garlic. VICK VAPORUB works well. CITRONELLA Oil or LEMONGRASS Oil are good repellents too.

A saucer containing a couple of drops of these oils in water and placed by an open window and/or door will hopefully stop the insects from entering the room. Try diluting these oils in water and spraying on clothing especially around collars, trouser bottoms, shorts and tops of socks.

You may also be interested in:

•  Beauty on the holiday menu
•  A Homegrown Medicine Patch
•  Medicines on the Holiday Menu – Part 1 as featured in the New York Times
•  Medicines on the Holiday Menu – Part 2

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Dave Harcombe

Travelling pharmacist

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