Insect Bites

Insect bites can cause swelling and itchiness. Rarely, they can cause problems breathing and emergency care.

Medicine and a cold compress can help ease swelling and pain. Natural treatments have been used to prevent bugs from biting.

Natural Therapies

May Be Effective

  • Citronella oil comes from lemongrass. It may prevent some bugs from biting when applied to the skin.C1
  • Homeopathic gels may ease swelling from mosquito bites.B1, B2
  • Lemon eucalyptus extract may reduce the number of tick bites.A3

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


Herbs and Supplements

A1. Maenthaisong R, Chaiyakunapruk N, et al. Efficacy and safety of topical Trikatu preparation in, relieving mosquito bite reactions: a randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):34-39.

A2. Rajan TV, Hein M, et al. A double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of garlic as a mosquito repellant: a preliminary study. Med Vet Entomol. 2005 Mar;19(1):84-89.

A3. Gardulf A, Wohlfart I, et al. A prospective cross-over field trial shows protection of lemon eucalyptus extract against tick bites. J Med Entomol. 2004 Nov;41(6):1064-1067.

Homeopathic Gels

B1. Hill N, Stam C, et al. The efficacy of Prrrikweg gel in the treatment of insect bites: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Pharm World Sci. 1996 Jan;18(1):35-41.

B2. Hill N, Stam C, et al. A placebo controlled clinical trial investigating the efficacy of a homeopathic after-bite gel in reducing mosquito bite induced erythema. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1995;49(1-2):103-108.

Essential Oils

C1. Sajo ME, Song SB, et al. Applicability of citronella oil (Cymbopogon winteratus) for the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases in the rural area of Tikapur, far-western Nepal. Rural Remote Health- 2015;15(4):3532.

C2. Benelli G, Pavela R. Repellence of essential oils and selected compounds against ticks-A systematic review. Acta Trop. 2018 Mar;179:47-54.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
Last Updated: 6/2/2020

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