The Itchy Summer Time


Summer can do some wonderful things for your mood. Sun, fun, relaxation…it’s all good, right?

Occasionally there can be little nuisances, like insect bites, itchy rashes, and sunburn.

It’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…this is where mainstream medicine and holistic health agree on a couple of common sense things: wear sunscreen and insect repellent. It doesn’t take pounds of chemicals to enjoy a summer day however. Unless you are going to be doing serious yard work or in the deep woods, there are natural ways to help the little uh-ohs, especially the ones that kids in particular seem to collect this season.

There are lots of recipes for natural insect repellent. None I know of are water repellent, so make a big batch and keep spritzing…a lot. But then, it is as good of a way as any to cool off a little bit. In addition to smelling nice, home insect repellents are usually water or dilute vinegar based which is a little cooling when you spritz it on. Key aromatherapy oils to use in a blend include geranium, eucalyptus, sometimes peppermint.

Accidents happen, and sometimes the most careful of us get a little sun singed around the edges. The classics apply – aloe is gold standard. Ocean Potion makes an after sun lotion that is based on natural carrier oils and also, wonderfully, contains some chamomile which is also amazing for soothing skin. It is my go-to for too much sun or just simple moisturizing after a day of swimming.

While the blister-y weeping contact dermatitis that comes from poison ivy, poison oak and sumac are a separate issue, rashes, bumps and itching can come from other sources too. Insect bites and contact with other plants (if you are allergic to them) can sometimes result in bumps and itch. Consult your doctor, of course, for stronger relief, but for mild cases with no worries about drowsiness or side effects, try a soothing baking soda bath (about 1/2 cup baking soda in a tub of water) or applying a  cool cloth soaked in some baking soda water. Follow that with a few spare drops of good quality lavender oil. Never use any other essential oils directly on the skin without supervision. Although lavender oil is generally safe and well tolerated, even full strength, the scent is pretty strong. You still might want to dilute it with a light oil. Once again my favorite here is grape seed oil because it is light and astringent and balances the essential oil well. Don’t forget … wash those paws! Keeping clean hands before and after applying anything to itchy areas or rash helps to keep the offending plant oils or pollen from getting over everything, and it help keep bacteria off of the compromised skin and avoid a secondary infection.

Enjoy the summer sun and fun, knowing a few easy, abundant and inexpensive aromatherapy oils can help with the little nuisances that can go along with the season.