Aloe Vera for Insect Bites and Poison Ivy

If you’re like me and you’ve had it with winter, you’re longing for warm weather and some time outside.  And if, like me, you’re irresistable to bugs, outside time means insect bites. Probably a case of poison ivy too. Fortunately Aloe Vera helps with both.

Adverse skin reactions to insect bites and stings from mosquitoes, biting flies, ants, gnats, noseeums, bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, scorpions, centipedes, and other insects are caused by histamines in the body. Histamines rise to the skin’s surface to battle the irritating toxins left in the skin from the saliva or stinger that penetrates and seeps into the skin’s surrounding dermal layers. The itching, redness, swelling and pain that follows an insect bite or sting can be alleviated by applying Aloe Vera’s soothing gel to the area. Some bites or stings can cause serious problems for sensitive or allergic individuals. Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, disorientation, and abnormal swelling should be treated immediately by a medical professional.

Having an Aloe Vera plant on hand at home is a good idea in the event of a minor burn, insect bite or sting, or poison plant reaction that needs immediate relief. An Aloe leaf can be cut close to its base and carefully split open to obtain the gel for topical skin relief. Aloe Vera can be used liberally for skin treatment; there are no reports or scientific studies of any significant side effects caused by the skin’s chemical absorption of the gentle but effective aloe vera plant.

An alternative way to apply Aloe Vera to the skin is in a liquid spray form, which is a convenient concoction when frequent applications are needed. This spray can be made in a blender by combining equal amounts of aloe vera leaves and water; more water can be added if necessary to make it thin enough for a misting spray bottle. If a blender is not available, the Aloe Vera leaves can be crushed in a mortar and pestle, or the gelatinous interior pulp can be scraped from the outer skin and mixed with water by hand to put into a spray bottle. This misting spray can be applied several times a day as needed for itch and irritation relief. After cutting Aloe Vera leaves for topical use as a rub or a spray, any leftover pieces or spray can be stored in the refrigerator. This will make it an even more cooling, soothing application the next time it is needed.

Because of the intense itching that results from insect bites and poison ivy and oak rashes, scratching the affected area can lead to infection. The frequent application of Aloe Vera, however, can help prevent infection and help to heal infection if it has already begun. Aloe Vera has powerful antibacterial properties that effectively work to heal while soothing irritation, redness and swelling at the same time. Although Aloe is approximately 95% water, the rest of it contains a concentrated mix of essential oils, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, glycoproteins, polysaccharides, anthraquinones, lectins, and anti-inflammatory fatty acids. Scientists believe all these compounds contribute to Aloe Vera’s effectiveness for treatment of burns, wounds, insect bites, and rashes. One of its recently discovered compounds, acemannan, has been found in studies to help the body’s immune system by increasing the number of T-lymphocyte cells, or T-cells, which help the body’s natural resistance to a host of ailments.

The purest form of Aloe Vera is, of course, directly from the living plant itself. Aloe plants can be found in most nurseries, and it is a hardy grower that requires very little attention. Aside from gel straight from the leaf,  the purest Aloe Vera extracts and gels can be found in many health food stores, some drugstores and supermarkets, and online. Look for the fewest additives and highest percentage of pure Aloe Vera.

When I’m battling a bad sting or case of poison ivy, what generally works for me is antihistamines, and slathering on the aloe. A little on the inside, and a little on the outside. Works like a charm!

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