You accidentally left your insect repellant at home, and as the sun starts to set, you can already feel the critters crawling all over your skin. An evening under the stars can quickly leave you with a plethora of red, swollen, itchy bug bites that immediately need your attention. Drug stores carry cream that you can use to help manage the most pressing symptom of an evening without bug spray: the itch. But what about the swollen, red marks?

I shared in my last post about making homemade insect repellant from essential oils that I’m usually on the receiving end of the bites administered by hungry mosquitos. On our wedding day, it looked like I was wearing a necklace of angry mosquito bites in a small area where I had forgotten to spray. Fortunately, there are a lot of natural options available for taking away the itch, as well as reducing the swelling and redness of irritating bites.

Conveniently, many of the essential oils that you can use in the insect repellant are also wonderful aids for the resulting bites that came beforehand. In many cases you can try to spray a small dab of additional bug spray on the affected area, if you’re using one of these combinations. If you prefer, you can also mix up small roller bottles with a few of these essential oils to carry with you for those times that the spray just won’t do. Because these oils serve so many different purposes, you may already have a few roller bottles mixed up with your favorite combination that will also work for bug bites.

Here are a few of my favorite remedies for itchy bug bites of all varieties:

Lavender oil

This is one of the most popular remedies for bug bites, particularly for individuals who are very sensitive to or allergic to mosquito bites. Lavender oil mixed with a carrier oil (almond oil or fractionated coconut oil work well) is a well-known solution for soothing itchy skin. It can also reduce the redness and take down some of the swelling in stubborn spots. A drop or two could also be applied directly to the affected area on a cotton swab or cotton ball. Soaking the area in lavender oil for a few moments will give it a chance to sink into the skin.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil has antiseptic properties that are great for small cuts and scrapes, but they are also ideal for bug bites. This is a particularly strong remedy for those bites that may have been scratched a little more than necessary. It kills germs in small open wounds and takes away a little bit of the nagging urge to continue scratching.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil will do the same as eucalyptus in terms of sanitizing scrapes and taking the sting away from itchy areas. Tea tree oil promotes good skin health and encourages wounds to heal a little faster than they usually would on their own.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil soaked on a cotton swab and pressed to a bug bite can take away some of the sting. It also works well to combine peppermint oil with tea tree oil to get the benefits of skin regeneration as well as the anti-itch properties that come from peppermint oil. This helps to lessen the aroma of tea tree oil which might be unpleasant to some people, particularly for bites that are closer to your nose or on your face.

Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil can be used for intense bug bites that need a little more soothing than you’ll find with the above treatments. Rosemary does need to be properly diluted instead of applied directly to the skin, so be sure to mix it in a carrier oil. It can be used in combination with any of the above to get the benefits of both oils all at the same time. If you’re combining the oils together, you may not need to use a carrier oil. For example, adding a drop of rosemary oil to a couple drops of lavender oil would dilute it enough to apply it neatly to your skin.

If you plan to dilute any of these oils in a carrier oil, you might want to consider using fractionated coconut oil. While any carrier oil will work, coconut oil is especially effective at reducing swelling associated with insect bites. You might want to consider diluting these oils, even if they are safe to use without, if you have sensitive skin or are very sensitive to strong oils. Rosemary should always be diluted in some sort of oil, whether a different essential oil or a carrier oil.

There are a few oils that I keep small bottles of in my purse because you never know when you’ll need a small splash for one reason or another. Especially during the summertime when mosquito season is at its peak, I usually carry a small bottle of lavender oil, tea tree oil, and a few cotton balls with me at all times. When I leave my house prepared, I never have to run into the store while fighting the urge to scratch my bug bites open.

Summertime doesn’t have to be unpleasant if you know how to create natural remedies for the everyday problems that arise. Where we live in the south, mosquitos and other nipping critters are a problem that we’re plagued with from May until October. If you live in a similar area, make sure that you know how to take care of yourself and your family without using harsh chemicals this year. Essential oils can be easy to use and have on hand for daily situations like this one.