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Can Tea Tree Oil Prevent Bug Bites?

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Nothing says “summertime” quite like a horde of annoying, buzzing, biting bugs. Insect repellents can be expensive, and nobody wants to fill their home with the thick, chemical scent of repellent spray.

So, are there other options? Can you use essential oils, like tea tree oil, to prevent and treat bug bites? Yes, you can. However, tea tree oil may not work to repel all types of insects, and you should be careful how you use it.

Let’s discuss how to use tea tree oil (and other essential oils) to keep those pesky bugs at bay.

How Do You Use Tea Tree Oil for Bug Bites?

Tea tree oil can be diluted and applied directly to a clean bug bite to provide relief from itching. As an anti-inflammatory and an antimicrobial solution, tea tree oil can help to fight infection and reduce any swelling.

Here’s how to best use tea tree oil on a recent bug bite:

  • Start by cleaning the bite area.
  • Dilute your tea tree oil. You can do this by adding a few drops of tea tree oil into a carrier oil, such as coconut, almond or lavender oil. It’s recommended to use a dilution of around 20:1 carrier oil to tea tree oil.
  • Add a few drops of the tea tree oil solution to a cotton swab, and gently dab it over the infected area.
  • If you notice any adverse reactions, stop and wash off the tea tree oil. Otherwise, you can apply the solution every few hours.

The scent of tea tree oil on your skin should repel any other biting insects.

Do Bugs Like the Smell of Tea Tree Oil?

Most bugs don’t like the smell of tea tree oil. However, it’s worth noting that some smells attract certain bugs, and other smells repel them. So, be sure you’re not tempting bugs to your area with something that smells good to them.

Mosquitos, bed bugs, spiders, ants, and more are all repelled by the scent of tea tree oil.

What Can I Put On My Skin to Prevent Bug Bites?

While essential oils can certainly work well to repel biting insects, it’s important not to neglect other ways of repelling insects:

Insect repellent and bug spray

Even with your essential oils on hand, it’s good to stock up on heavy-duty, commercial bug sprays, especially if you’re going somewhere known for having biting insects.

Mosquito nets

Mosquito nets are ideal for keeping away all kinds of biting insects, especially when you’re asleep. If you’re going anywhere with biting insects, a mosquito net is an essential item.

Appropriate clothing

Rather than slathering every inch of exposed skin with bug repellent sprays, creams, and essential oils, wear clothing that protects your body.

Avoid problem areas (if you can)

While this isn’t always a practical solution, the best way to avoid bug bites is to stay away from areas known for mosquitos, bed bugs, and other biting insects. Proper clothing and repellent measures can only go so far – you may still get bitten.

Ideally, it’s best to combine a few of these preventative measures. Invest in a mosquito net, wear appropriate clothing, and use insect repellents and essential oils.

What Essential Oils Keep Biting Bugs Away?

Tea tree oil isn’t the only essential oil that works to repel biting bugs. Certain scents repel bugs, so you can try oils such as:

  • Bergamot     
  • Lavender (this is good for those with sensitive skin)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Coconut (although this isn’t as effective as the others)

You may want to experiment to see which oils work the best – but make sure you aren’t leaving yourself open to bites while you do so.

Alternatively, you can use one of these oils as a carrier oil to apply tea tree oil. For example, coconut oil moisturizes the skin, preventing dryness, and lavender oil is soothing, and recommended for people with sensitive skin.

The Bottom Line

Whether you use tea tree oil or something else, it’s vital to prevent yourself and your loved ones from insect bites. At best, insect bites are itchy, painful, and annoying. At worst, they may pass on potentially serious diseases.

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