Beat the nasties naturally

To make outdoor activities pest-free and more enjoyable you need a suitable repellent, and what better way to do this than the use of fragrant essential oils.

To make outdoor activities pest-free and more enjoyable you need a suitable repellent, and what better way to do this than the use of fragrant essential oils.

With the warmer weather and longer days of summer now upon us, most people tend to spend more time enjoying extended outdoor activities. These outdoor activities can quickly turn into a disaster with the invasion of annoying and biting insects. To make outdoor activities pest-free and more enjoyable you need a suitable repellent, and what better way to do this than the use of fragrant essential oils.

Neat lavender oil can be applied to exposed skin, if you avoid contact with eyes and mouth. Dab on two or three drops and massage well into the skin - renew every couple of hours. Other oils that will also repel insects are eucalyptus and citronella. You can dilute any of these oils with an odourless vegetable oil, provided it remains highly fragrant, to make it spread further. Or alternatively you can blend six drops of lavender oil with five millilitres of vodka and 150 millilitres of distilled water to make your own personal repellant to have handy whenever you're out of doors or insects are a problem.

In outdoor entertainment areas install red lights where you eat and cook, as they will repel insect pests; a white light some way off will attract pests. Burning eucalyptus leaves in the barbecue will repel mosquitoes, flies, gnats and midges. A far simpler solution is to burn insect repellent candles, such as citronella.

If you are unlucky enough to be bitten or stung out of doors, the inside surface of a banana skin applied to the painful area will provide first aid relief. Neat lavender oil applied to the site of a sting will also alleviate irritation. Apply one drop of oil, and then continue to apply a drop of oil every five minutes, or until it can be seen that the drop is being absorbed. Apply no more than ten drops in total.

Mosquito and ant bites can also be treated by the application of a moist bicarbonate of soda paste. If you have been bitten over a large area, dilute ten drops of lavender oil and five drops of thyme oil in 250 millilitres of cider vinegar, and add this mixture to a warm bath. Afterwards, apply neat lavender oil to all the bites. 

Bee and wasp stings can be treated by applying a thick paste of bicarbonate of soda and then covering the affected area with a cold wet cloth. With a bee sting you have to first remove the actual stinger before treating with the soothing agent. To remove the sting, apply a honey compress to the area. To draw the pain from a bee sting, immediately apply a slice of raw onion or ice on the affected area. Wasp stings can be soothed by repeated applications of cider vinegar.

Irritation from plant stings can be eased by washing the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible, then apply a cold lavender compress. Add ten drops of lavender oil to 100 millilitres of cold water, then soak a piece of cotton gauze or a clean handkerchief in the liquid. Remove the cloth and squeeze it gently until it stops dripping, and apply it to the affected area. Renew as required.

If the irritation from an insect or plant sting doesn't cease within a few hours, or appears to be getting worse, you should immediately contact your health practitioner!

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