What happens when you forget your essential oil bug repellant and you find yourself smacking, swatting, and scratching at the bugs around you? What do you do when your kid comes to you with red, painful and itchy spots that are making them whiny?
You run for your herbal first aid kit and grab your tin of herbal anti-itch salve, that’s what!
What? What was that you said? You don’t have an herbal anti-itch salve in your first aid kit?!
Mama! We must correct this oversight!
Today, I’m sharing my herbal anti-itch salve recipe with you (as well as the story of how it came to be) so that the next time you find yourself swarmed with bugs and end up with red, itchy spots all over, you will have a little bit of nature’s goodness to bring soothing relief to your hot, swollen skin.
That Time You Realize There’s Another Herbal Remedy You’ve Yet To Make… And Desperately Need At The Moment
I found myself in another state, on vacation, without an herbal first aid kit. And I call myself an herbalist! (Note to self: Travel first aid kit… ASAP!)
We were vacationing with friends. Dusk was coming upon us. The men were preparing the campfire. The kids were chasing the chickens and playing on the rope swing. The women were preparing the food. The bugs… they were watching… slowly creeping in… planning their attack.
At first I didn’t really notice them. I felt a flutter so I swatted it away. Then I felt an itch so I scratched it. After a while I realized that I was swatting, itching, and scratching more than I realized.
You see, bugs don’t normally bother me. I’m not sure if it’s me (maybe I taste bad) or if it’s Tennessee (maybe Tennessee bugs don’t bite Tennesseans). No matter, I still take precautions if I’m going to be outside in the evening by having some sort of homemade bug spray with me. I usually only use a small amount on myself and more on the kids (because for some reason kids can’t deal with itching… it makes them even more whiney than they normally are). But this time it was different. Perhaps it was because I was an outsider invading these Pennsylvania bug’s territory. Maybe they don’t like southerners. Maybe I taste better to them. Who knows! All I know is that I, and the kids, were fair game that night. My husband, not so much. He must taste bad all the time! 😉
Once I realized I was getting bit, my friend offered me some bug spray… you know, the kind with DEET. I politely declined. I just figured I’d tough it out and deal with it. Maybe I’d sit in the path of the campfire’s smoke. That tends to keep bugs away too you know. Unfortunately that didn’t work.
I complained to my husband, and he mentioned that he’d brought one of our boys adventure packs. These packs are for family outings and adventures. They have all sorts of survival and safety gear as well as some first aid supplies in them. I remembered putting in some essential oil bug repelling oil into one of the packs so I asked my man to grab the pack, and I prayed that it was the one with the bug oil.
Score! It was. I doused myself and the kids with the oil. We smelled like smoke with hints of mint and cinnamon. My friends husband even gave it a try to see how it worked, and work it did. We were pretty much left alone for the rest of the night. I felt no more bites or itches for the remainder of our time at the cookout.
Unfortunately the next day I saw the results of the bug war. My kids and I have several large, red, itchy spots on our arms and legs. I could refrain from itching (and whining), but the kids couldn’t and there wasn’t much I could do. We weren’t going to take Benedryl for bug bites… that’s for sure. It wasn’t THAT bad. I mean, there has to be an allergic reaction… you know, swelling, difficulty breathing, turning blue… that sort of thing before we opt for Benadryl.
Anyway, this is when I realized I needed something more than just a preventative like bug repellant. I needed something to soothe the itch if we did get bit. I needed an herbal anti-itch salve.
Formulating An Effective Herbal Anti-Itch Salve
You can believe as soon as I got home I started planning for this salve. I wrote down the different things I wanted my salve to do.
- Decrease itching, pain, and inflammation
- Speed healing time
- Discourage infection
- Cool the skin
I started by checking out the Herbal Academy of New England’s membership site – The Herbarium – to search for “anti-itch” herbs since that was the main property I wanted my salve to have. I came across several herbs that were used for this purpose and checked them out further. Almost all of them also did the other things I wanted too. They all had cooling, drying energetics. They decreased inflammation and tightened the skin. They had anti-microbial properties. They were shown to reduce pain and promote wound healing. Plus, I had them in my apothecary. I was set.
I also decided to add in some peppermint essential oil to my salve because it helps to further cool hot skin, and I wanted my salve to smell good too!
So that’s it… that’s how I came to make this salve. Now that we’re back in Tennessee we may never need it. Like I said earlier, the bugs here don’t care for us too much, but none-the-less, I’ll be prepared if I do need it. I’m sure I can use this for other itch skin issues as well. I’m not sure it would work well for poison ivy rashes (I have other favorite remedies – like this one and this one – for that), but I’m sure it would work for chicken pox or measles spots (if we ever get them that is).
“Scratch No More” Salve
Makes 1 – 1 oz. tin. Feel free to double or triple if desired.
- 1.5 oz. olive oil
- 1 tsp. calendula flowers
- 1 tsp. rose petals
- 1 tsp. st. john’s wort
- .25 oz. beeswax
- 10 drops of peppermint essential oil (lavender for kids <6)
- Infuse herbs into oil for 1 hour. (CLICK HERE for directions on how to do it.)
- Strain and compost herbs.
- Measure and melt beeswax in a clean pan. Once wax is melted, turn heat off and add herbal oil to wax. Mix well.
- Pour into a 1 oz. tin and add essential oils. (You can also add EOs to oil in pan and then pour salve into chapstick tubes.)
Rub onto itchy spots as often as necessary.
Want even more herbal salve recipes? Check out my e-book, Herbal Ointments, Salves & Balms: The Ultimate How-To Guide! Not only will it tell you which of these products to use and why, but it will walk you through the steps of making them yourself! Plus, you’ll learn how to source quality ingredients, how to keep your creations shelf-stable, and how to add “advanced” ingredients into them. Oh… and you’ll get 5 exclusive recipes to help you get started making your own herbal ointments, salves, and balms right away! Learn more about it here!