Throughout history, people have used essential oils for different bug bites They help ease the symptoms and prevent secondary complications because of their anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antibacterial, anti-itch, and wound-healing properties. Below, you’ll find some of the best essential oils for bee stings and bug bites, as well as tips on how to use these essential oils.
- 1 What Are the Symptoms of Bee Stings and Bug Bites?
- 2 How Do You Treat a Bee Sting and a Bug Bite?
- 3 The 12 Best Essential Oils for Bee Stings and Bug Bites
- 3.1 Tea Tree Oil
- 3.2 Lavender Essential Oil
- 3.3 Chamomile Essential Oil
- 3.4 Lemon Balm Essential Oil
- 3.5 Thyme Essential Oil
- 3.6 Lemongrass Essential Oil
- 3.7 Peppermint Essential Oil
- 3.8 Rosemary Essential Oil
- 3.9 Basil Essential Oil
- 3.10 Bergamot Essential Oil
- 3.11 Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 3.12 Geranium Essential Oil
- 4 First Aid Tips for Bee Stings and Bug Bites
What Are the Symptoms of Bee Stings and Bug Bites?
Insects are everywhere. According to figures, there are more than 200 million insects per person on the planet.  Thus, it’s almost impossible not to get bitten or stung by an insect at some point of our lives.
Examples of insects that bite are fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, cockroaches, mites, and bed bugs (and other true bugs). These insects bite humans using their piercing-sucking mouthparts, which differ for each insect type.
Bees, scorpions, wasps (e.g. yellow jackets, velvet ants, and hornets), and ants are just a few examples of stinging creatures. These insects have a sharp, piercing organ, often attached to a venom gland. The stinger of an insect is usually located at the tip of its rear end.
The kind and severity of your symptoms will vary. It mostly depends on what insect bit or stung you.
According to Mayo Clinic, around 30 to 60 percent of people may develop a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a bee sting if they get stung again.  In the United States, around 2 million Americans have severe allergic reactions to the venom of stinging insects. 
Get emergency treatment within 10 minutes if you or another person has:
- A history of severe allergic reactions to insect stings
- Breathing difficulties
- Itchy welts on the skin called urticaria or hives
- Feeling lightheaded or faint
- An enlarge or swollen tongue
The good news is it’s rare for people to develop severe allergic reactions to insect stings or bites. In most cases, people will only have a mild allergic reaction. They may experience the following symptoms:
- Swelling (mild to moderate)
- Warmth at the affected area
Certain stinging insects, such as bees, sting only once because they leave behind their stingers in the wound. Their sting may cause a sudden and sharp pain, swollen, light red bump on the skin, and itching. It may take a few hours up to a week before these symptoms completely heal.
How Do You Treat a Bee Sting and a Bug Bite?
The treatment for bug bites and bee stings are usually similar. If you have non-life-threatening symptoms, home remedies are enough:
- Pull the stinger out immediately to stop the pumping of venom into your skin. You can use a tweezer, your fingernail, a credit card, or any straight-edge object.
- Remove any tight-fitting jewelry, such as a ring and bracelet, that’s near the sting or bite area. Once the area swells, you’re going to have a hard time removing your jewelry.
- Wash the area using soap and water to prevent infection. Oral or topical may not be necessary for mild bug bites.
- Then, apply something cold to the area to relieve the swelling and pain. You can take over-the-counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and non-sedating antihistamines to relieve the itchiness. A mild topical corticosteroid may also help ease inflammation and itching.
Now, let’s discuss some of the most popular essential oils for bug bites.
The 12 Best Essential Oils for Bee Stings and Bug Bites
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is extracted from the Australian indigenous plant Melaleuca alternifolia. It’s colorless to pale yellow in color and has a woody, herb-like, and slightly medicinal fragrance.
Tea tree oil possesses different medicinal properties that help it address a variety of skin issues, such as insect bites. Since it’s a powerful antiseptic, it kills germs that might cause an infection or itchy skin.
One of its major chemical constituents is terpinen-4-ol, which is responsible for most of its therapeutic actions.  This compound is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. These properties of tea tree oil allow it to ease the swelling and pain caused by a bee sting or insect bite.
How to use:
To treat an insect bite or bee sting, simply add a drop of tea tree oil in 1 teaspoon of mild carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil) or 1 ounce of water. Dip a cotton ball in the mixture then gently apply on the affected area. Reapply the mixture every few hours or as necessary.
It can also double as an effective insect repellent. It works by destroying the outer skeleton of insects, causing them to suffocate and eventually die. 
It’s generally safe to use. Some even use it directly to the skin without diluting it first. However, if you have sensitive skin, never use it undiluted because it could irritate your skin or cause blisters.
Avoid using this essential oil topically or internally if:
- You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have an existing autoimmune skin disorder
- You are taking antibiotics, such as vancomycin
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is known for its stress-relieving and sleep-inducing qualities. But, it’s also a great essential oil to apply on your skin whenever you’re going outside. It turns out that it’s an effective insect repellent.
Insects, such as mosquitoes and midges, don’t like its sweet, woody, and floral scent. 
This essential oil contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, such as linalool and linalyl acetate.  A study even suggests that it’s as effective as tramadol, which is a prescription medicine for mild to moderate pain.  So, whenever you get bitten or stung by an insect, just apply a small amount of diluted lavender essential oil on that area to relieve the swelling, pain, itching, and irritation.
Lavender essential oil seems to be a perfect choice for healing bites caused by a mosquito and spider. Aside from being an anti-inflammatory agent, it can also stop the bleeding—one symptom of a mosquito bite is bleeding—and prevent infection due to its antibacterial properties. 
How to use:
So, if you’re going outside, apply diluted lavender essential oil on your exposed skin to keep insects away. You can also blend it with other essential oils, particularly peppermint, rosemary, bergamot, and geranium essential oils.
It might sometimes irritate the skin, especially in people with highly sensitive skin.
Never take it by mouth because it’s poisonous. In case you swallowed it, go to the emergency room for urgent care or contact poison control to get expert help.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile essential oil offers a wide range of benefits for the skin—from correcting skin imperfections to soothing dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. That’s why it’s a favorite ingredient in many commercial topical remedies for inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema (which causes patches of inflamed and itchy skin).
Depending on the species used, chamomile essential oil has a long history as an effective anti-inflammatory agent. Chamazulene and alpha-pinene are two of the compounds that are responsible for this effect of chamomile essential oil. 
It also helps ease the pain and itching and prevents infection because it’s an analgesic and antiseptic. One of the reasons it works so well is because it can penetrate the deep layer of your skin.
How to use:
To relieve bug bites, combine 4 drops of German chamomile essential oil, 2 drops of tea tree oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 2 teaspoons of jojoba or almond oil. Make sure to test a small amount on your inner forearm and wait for at least 30 minutes to see if you’re allergic to the essential oils.
Chamomile essential oil is usually safe if you use it properly. But, if you’re allergic to chrysanthemum, marigolds, ragweed, daisies, and other plants in the same family, it’s better to avoid chamomile essential oil. Pregnant women should also stay away from it because it could cause premature uterine contractions.
Lemon Balm Essential Oil
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), a member of the mint family, is known by different names: common balm, sweet Mary, melissa, balm, and sweet balm. For thousands of years, the oil extracted from this calming herb has been used for curing skin conditions that cause sores, itching, and inflammation.
It’s also one of the best essential oils for bee stings and bug bites because of its numerous medicinal properties. It’s an effective anti-inflammatory essential oil because it contains linalool. This compound helps ease the pain, swelling, and redness that happen after a bee sting or bug bite.
How to use:
You can mix one part of this essential oil with one-part water to make a bug repellent. It contains around 30% of citronellal, which research shows can effectively keep mosquitoes away. 
Lemon balm also has anti-allergy properties, which could help when you experience an allergic reaction to an insect sting or bite.  In folk medicine, the leaves of lemon balm are crushed then the crushed leaves are put on the insect bite to ease the swelling and itching.
Alternatively, you can dab 1 to 2 drops of diluted lemon balm essential oil to the area of the insect bite.
Like with most essential oils, lemon balm essential oil is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women because of its possible effects on the uterus.
People with certain medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid or a hormone-related illness, should also refrain from using this essential. Overall, however, it’s safe to use for most people.
Lemon balm essential oil is hard to come by and pricey. You may buy adulterated lemon balm essential oil, so purchase only from trusted suppliers.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil is extracted from garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Since the ancient times, thyme has been used to treat a variety of physical ailments and skin conditions, such as acne and cancer.
Thyme essential oil contains caryophyllene, camphene, and thymol, which are responsible for its strong antiseptic quality.  That’s why it’s a favorite home remedy for wounds and sores.
Like with most skin wounds, including insect bites or stings, it’s possible for disease-causing bacteria to enter your broken skin and cause an infection.
This essential oil also helps eliminate the pain and swelling of an insect bite or bee sting because it contains carvacrol, which is an anti-inflammatory. It brings down the inflammation by stopping a certain enzyme that’s involved in prostaglandin production: COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) enzyme. 
When your skin or body tissue is injured or infected, prostaglandins immediately rush to the site, causing fever, pain, and inflammation.
If you want an effective alternative to chemical-based insect repellents, thyme essential oil is a good option. It repels and even kills (if necessary) insects that try to sting or bite you. It’s especially effective against fleas, moths, flies, beetles, lice, and mosquitoes. 
How to use:
To soothe the site of the bite or sting, gently rub 2 drops of thyme essential oil that’s diluted in 2 teaspoons of olive oil, or any carrier oil you like. Make sure to do a skin patch test to know if you’re allergic to it.
Thyme essential oil is an irritating essential oil. Avoid using it without diluting it first with a high-quality vegetable oil, such as olive oil, almond oil, and coconut oil. A few of its common side effects are inflamed skin, lightheadedness, and vomiting. Don’t use this if you’re allergic to mint or rosemary, pregnant or breastfeeding, or have problems with your blood pressure or thyroid gland.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) is a popular ornamental plant. But, that’s not the only benefit of lemongrass. The plant and its essential oil contains high amounts of citral and geraniol, which are responsible for its mosquito-repelling effect.
According to recent trials, lemongrass could be equally effective as DEET (diethyltoluamide), a common active ingredient in insect repellent products.  And what’s good about it is it doesn’t seem to cause serious side effects.
How to use:
Here’s a simple mosquito repellent recipe: Combine 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil, 4 ounces of witch hazel or water, and 4 ounces of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar then transfer the mixture to an amber glass spray bottle. Shake to mix, and then spritz on your clothing.
One of the great qualities of lemongrass essential oil is its skin-healing compounds. It prevents infection and stops bleeding because of its astringent and antiseptic activities. A study has shown that topical application of this essential oil has notably prevented skin inflammation. 
People with sensitive skin or allergies may experience sensitivity to lemongrass essential oil because it contains high amounts of citral. Examples of its topical side effects are rashes, skin irritations, and burning sensations.
It’s important to follow the recommended dilution ratio to avoid skin sensitivity reactions. A good rule of thumb is to dilute 2 to 3 drops of lemongrass essential oil to 1 teaspoon of a high-quality carrier oil.
As with other essential oils, lemongrass essential oil is contraindicated for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children, and people with hypertension, diabetes, low blood pressure, and kidney or liver problems.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil comes from the leaves of the Mentha piperita plant. It’s a versatile essential oil that has numerous benefits, especially for treating insect bites and stings:
It contains menthol, which is used in non-prescription topical preparations for minor aches, pains, spasms, and itch (that’s associated with insect bites, sunburn, dry skin, and poisonous plants).
As a counterirritant, it causes mild inflammation or irritation on the area where you’ve been stung or bitten to relieve pain. Results of controlled studies suggest that 10% peppermint essential oil is as effective as over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin and paracetamol. 
How to use:
It may also prevent infection because of its antibacterial and antifungal activity.  Just apply a small amount of diluted peppermint essential oil to the affected area up to three times a day.
Mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, ants, cockroaches, lice, and even mice hate peppermint essential oil. Pour a few drops of this essential oil on a cotton ball, and then place it in areas around your home where you have found these pests.
There are some people who apply undiluted peppermint essential oil directly to their skin. However, I wouldn’t recommend this, especially if you have sensitive skin or suffering from a skin condition.
Undiluted or large amounts of peppermint essential oil may cause rashes, lesions, dermatitis (a general term for skin inflammation), burns, and fluid-filled bumps on the skin.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is a clear essential oil that has a distinctive woody fragrance. It has many health benefits, but it’s more popular for its ability to relieve pain, especially pain that’s related to headaches, joint inflammation, and muscles.
When used together with over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, it becomes more effective. 
Many commercial insecticides use rosemary essential oil as a major active ingredient. It contains 1,8-cineole and alpha-pinene, which are toxic to insects. 
How to use:
To make an effective insect-killing concoction, add 8 drops of rosemary essential oil and 10 drops of lemongrass essential oil to an amber glass spray bottle with 8 ounces of water. Stir to mix.
There’s a lack studies to determine its long-term efficacy and safety. Although it’s usually safe, rosemary essential oil may cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin. Make sure it’s properly diluted in a mild carrier oil and perform a spot test prior to first use. This shouldn’t be used on children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with certain medical problems, such as diabetes.
Basil Essential Oil
With it distinct flavor and aroma, basil has been a favorite ingredient in many meal recipes. But, its uses extend far beyond just making great dishes. The oil extracted from this “king of herbs” is used today to soothe inflammatory conditions and heal infections and wounds.
Basil essential oil, also called sweet basil oil, has a strong anti-inflammatory activity. One of its major active compounds called eugenol is believed to imitate over-the counter anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. 
A diverse group of compounds, such as eugenol, are responsible for basil essential oil’s ability to kill harmful bacteria and fungi. These microorganisms may cause a variety of complications, such as secondary bacterial infections, after you’re stung or bitten by an insect or bee.
How to use:
Basil essential oil contains bioactive compounds that can repel and kill insects, such as mosquitoes.  Make a simple bug repellent by adding 12 drops of basil essential oil to 30 ml of high-quality carrier oil, cream, or lotion.
The FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) recognized basil essential oil as “Generally Recognized As Safe.” However, people with highly sensitive skin may experience allergic reactions to this essential oil because it contains methyl chavicol.
Consult a qualified healthcare professional if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, and/or have a serious medical condition.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil has a fresh, citrusy, and floral fragrance. In aromatherapy, people use it to feel more relaxed and to improve their mood. It’s particularly effective in treating skin conditions that cause scaling, inflammation, itching, and extreme dryness because of its strong antiseptic and sedative properties.
It may also prevent insect bites or stings from becoming infected because of its disinfectant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. That’s why it’s extensively used in many commercial skin and hair care products. 
Bergamot essential oil is used for treating pain that’s resistant to opioid pain medications, such as nerve pain, which results from damaged nerves. It works by triggering the release of certain hormones that make the injured area less painful by reducing nerve sensitivity. 
Bergamot essential oil is not for pregnant women, children, and people with sensitive skin. It may cause photosensitivity reactions, such as blisters, extreme sunburn, redness, and skin pigmentation problems. It contains bergamottin and bergapten, which are compounds that soak up ultraviolet light and cause oversensitivity to the sun. Avoid sun exposure hours after applying this essential oil to your skin.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
In Brazilian folk medicine, people usually use eucalyptus essential oil to treat ailments that cause pain and inflammation.  Eucalyptus essential oil is usually extracted from the Eucalyptus globulus (“Blue Gum”) species, which contains high amounts of cineole (60 to 70 percent).  Cineole is an organic compound that’s responsible for its health benefits, such as relieving pain and easing inflammation.
Eucalyptus essential oil is also an effective antiseptic.  Therefore, it’s often used to speed up the healing of wounds, burns, sores, cuts, and insect bites and stings.
Aside from speeding up wound healing, it also prevents complications by keeping the affected area free from germs that might enter the body through breaks in the skin and cause an infection.
How to use:
Don’t use too much of this essential oil to avoid adverse effects. Start with small doses then slowly increase the amount you use as necessary. If it’s your first time to use this essential oil, you can start by diluting 1 drop of eucalyptus essential oil in 2 teaspoons of high-quality carrier oil, such as virgin coconut oil and olive oil.
Applying diluted eucalyptus essential oil directly to the skin is mostly safe. However, it’s not advisable for children, pregnant women, people who are on sedatives, cancer patients, and asthmatics. Ingesting this could poison you, especially if you consume 3.5 ml (less than a teaspoon) or more.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium essential oil is extracted from the evergreen shrub Pelargonium graveolens. It’s usually colorless, but it can also be light green. Its fragrance can be described as dry, herb-like, sweet, and floral.
Geranium essential oil can control the symptoms of an insect bite or sting in different ways. For instance, it can effectively reduce the swelling and pain because it’s a potent anti-inflammatory agent with minimal side effects. 
It has antiseptic, antibacterial, and astringent compounds that can stop the bleeding (if any), keep the affected area free from germs, and speed up its healing.
Insects, such as mosquitoes, don’t like this essential oil because of its active ingredients linalool, citronellol, citral, and geraniol.  Compared to citronella and linalool, a study has shown that geraniol has the strongest insect-repellent activity against mosquitoes in indoor and outdoor settings. 
How to use:
If stung or bitten by a mosquito (or other insects), dilute 2 to 3 drops of geranium essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil. After mixing, apply the oil mixture to the affected area to reduce the pain, swelling, and itching. Re-apply the oils to the bite area several times daily until the symptoms subside.
There’s not enough information on the long-term safety of using geranium essential oil. Choose to be cautious. Don’t use this—or other essential oils—if you have sensitive skin, are suffering from a medical condition, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Important: Be careful when buying geranium essential oil. There are fraudulent suppliers that sell adulterated geranium essential oil. They usually mix it with other essential oils, such as lemongrass and cedarwood essential oils, turpentine, and esters.
Also Read: Best Essential Oils for Wrinkles.
First Aid Tips for Bee Stings and Bug Bites
The exact treatment for insect bites and stings will mostly depend on the type of insect that bit or stung you. If you don’t know, treat it like you would most insect bites and stings:
- If you or someone else has been stung by a bee, remove the stinger using a thin object with a straight edge (credit card, blunt knife, your fingernail, etc.) or pull it out using a tweezer.
- Observe for signs of anaphylactic shock, a rapid-onset and life-threatening allergic reaction. Call 911 or any emergency number immediately if a person goes into anaphylactic shock. You can also inject epinephrine if you have it on hand.
- Clean the affected area with soap and water. Apply something cold on that area to ease the swelling and pain. You can apply an anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antihistamine, and/or antibacterial (if necessary) creams or ointments. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for expert advice.
- For mild allergic reactions, use essential oils for bee stings and bug bites. Here’s a simple recipe for a soothing salve with essential oils:
Soothing Salve for Bug Bites
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil
- 10 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 12 teaspoons of coconut oil
- 4 teaspoons of wheatgerm oil
- 2 ounces of beeswax
- Amber glass jar, wide mouth
- Melt the coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler over a small pot of boiling water. Then, add the wheatgerm oil while still whisking.
- Allow it to cool a little before adding the essential oils and pour into an amber glass jar. The salve will harden after several hours.
- Test a small amount on your inner forearm first. Wait for at least 30 minutes to see if you’re allergic to any of the ingredients.
- Wash the area where you’ve been stung or bitten before applying the salve.
- Store the salve in a cool, dark place. Try using it within 6 months.
These are just some of the essential oils that you could use to soothe and heal an insect sting or bite. You may need to do a bit of experimenting to determine which ones are most effective for you. Always be conscious of their side effects, as well as the safe and correct ways of using these essential oils to maximize their benefits.
What do you think? Have you ever used essential oils to soothe and heal a bee sting or a bug bite?