First things first
If you have a bee sting, the stinger is likely still embedded under your skin (wasps don't leave a stinger behind). You want to use a blunt knife, credit card, or fingernail to remove it—not a tweezer and do not pinch. The stinger has a little poison sac attached to it. You need to get the stinger out ASAP to avoid further sting irritation.
Except where otherwise noted, all remedies listed can treat either bites or stings from ants, bees, wasps, and/or spiders.
Note: Be sure to stay aware of signs of possible allergic reaction and be prepared to seek medical attention promptly should this occur.
1. Baking soda
There’s little baking soda can’t accomplish—from removing fridge odors to easing itching. Mix baking soda with water or soothing skin lotion (such as Calamine) and apply the paste to the bite or sting area to reduce swelling and itching. Leave for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.
Ice is another wonder—not only is the numbing power of ice a universal panacea for itching, but ice reduces swelling like nobody's business. Be sure to place a cloth between ice and skin to avoid further irritation. Leave ice pack or cube on for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.
Papaya is not just sweet and tasty to eat—it’s also great at drawing out venom from insect bites and stings. The enzymes in papaya neutralize the venom and help with inflammation. Just place a slice of the fruit directly onto the itchy, swollen area and leave on for up to 60 minutes. Repeat as needed.
4. White or Apple cider vinegar
Vinegar is also a great natural agent to reduce swelling and end itching. You can soak a towel with vinegar and apply over the irritated area, or mix vinegar with baking soda into a paste. Apply either for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Repeat as needed.
5. Lemon juice
Lemon juice has similar anti-inflammation and itch-reduction properties to vinegar. You can place a lemon slice directly onto the affected area and leave for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.
6. Plain ol' soap
If you have household soap that is scent free and deodorant free, your skin will thank you. Wet the bar of soap, rub a bit onto the affected area, then rinse with cool water. Repeat as needed.
Salt is an easy, super-cheap way to ease swelling and itching. Mix salt with a bit of water into a paste, then apply directly onto the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.
Sugar works just as well as salt to reduce inflammation and end itching. You can dab your finger in a bit of water and then into a sugar jar, transferring the sugar to the bite or sting area. You can also make a sugar paste with a bit of water and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes.
9. Meat tenderizer
If you happen to have some meat tenderizer on hand, the powder has anti-swelling and anti-itch enzymes. Just make a paste of the powder with a bit of water and apply it directly to the wound site. Leave on for 60 minutes and repeat as needed.
Not only is aspirin great when taken internally to stop pain and reduce swelling, but it works very well as a paste applied directly to the tender area. Crush an aspirin, mix with a bit of water, then apply the paste directly to the itchy site and leave on up to 60 minutes.
Onion, like papaya and meat tenderizer, contains natural enzymes to help neutralize venom and ease swelling and itching. Rub the onion over the affected area. Repeat as needed.
12. Essential oils
If you have menthol, tea tree oil, peppermint oil or lavender oil, rubbing a drop or two into the bite or sting site can ease swelling and itching.
13. Deodorant or toothpaste
For bug bites, both deodorant and toothpaste have anti-irritation properties—a dab of either directly onto the irritated area can ease skin inflammation, promote healing and reduce itching.
Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Place a slice of fresh pineapple over the bite or sting site. Repeat as needed.
Oh yes—that wonderful sludgy stuff in your backyard can work miracles on bites and stings. Make a mud paste and pack it over the affected area. Let the mud dry, then rinse with cool water. Repeat as needed.