Stings, Sun and Aromatherapy fun!

Summer(4)

Article by Alexia Buttigieg

Summer is here, and of course along with it the heat, mosquitoes and jellyfish also tag along. Essential oils have a great effect as repellents for insects and are also very soothing as summer first aiders.

This is the natural shopping list for your summer:

  • Witch hazel
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Lavandin essential oil
  • Eucalyptus Lemon essential oil
  • Chamomile roman essential oil.

Worrying us the most are the jellyfish stings, and gosh they do hurt! These are treated best with Lavender essential oil, as first aid and can be applied undiluted and then mixed with aloe vera gel up to 1% to keep up the treatment. Some would recommend using Vinegar and for some it is effective. There is no scientific evidence regarding this, but still many swear by it. Though first aiders recommend to wash area with warm clear water for some minutes and after the undiluted Lavender should be applied to avoid venom entering the system.

Next?  Insect stings!!!

First I would like to spare a word about what to avoid in an insect repellent . DEET!

The EPA says that if used as directed, bug sprays containing DEET are not harmful to us, although long-term exposure is. When you spray it on your skin, it gets absorbed and eventually enters the bloodstream. It pumps through your nervous system and has been proven to kill brain cells, causing neurological damage. If you have heavy exposure to DEET, you may experience memory loss, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and shortness of breath. Mosquito bites aren’t looking so bad now, huh? DEET could be considered a poison, but the EPA feels that small doses are OK for us. So if you’re using a product containing DEET, follow the directions on the bottle. Don’t over-apply, and as soon as you go inside, wash your skin off with soap and water.

I don’t wish to use scaremongering but there are safer ingredients to be used so it’s up to the individual to decide to go for this ingredient, and if you choose to, make sure at least is in low dosage. More than that make sure if used on kids they do not put their hands in their mouth or get it in their eyes or mucous membrane.

Natural Mosquito spray repellent:

There are various essential oils that work as mosquito repellent; Citronella, Eucalyptus Lemon, Patchouli, Lemongrass, Lavandin, geranium bourbon.  All are effective mostly in vaporisers and aromatherapy diffusers. These essential oils should be added to water at a maximum of 3.5% if outside, 2% if indoors and if small pets or kids are present at 1%. One should not expose oneself to the fumes for more than 3 hours at a stretch. When applied to the skin things work differently. These essential oils mentioned can cause skin sensitisation if used in high percentages. My favourite one for kids is; eucalyptus Lemon at 0.6% which is safer than citronella on the skin and Lavandin at 0.3% which is a lavender hybrid and apart than having insect repellent properties has also calming effects on the skin. These should be mixed in witch hazel and placed in a small dark bottle. Always shake before use as to disperse essential oils. Mix in small quantities. Spray on skin avoiding eyes and mouth.

Lemon eucalyptus: This essential oil is so effective against bugs that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered lemon eucalyptus oil as a natural “biopesticide repellent”.

If bitten or stung  Chamomile at 0.25% and Lavender at 0.75% are very soothing and calming. These can be mixed in sweet almond oil, calendula oil or even aloe vera gel.

Tip for your home!! Clove and peppermint essential oils at 2% in white vinegar acts as an ant repellent. Spray areas where ants are present.

Essential oils do not offer any kind of sun filter, No base oils are proven to be a sun filter. So it is clear that essential oils mixed in base oils are not to be applied before sun exposure and proper sun protection should be applied. There is no 100% natural sun protection cream but there are various sun screens with natural and organic oils with non nano zinc oxides which are not able to penetrate deep into the skin but keep on the surface meaning they are safer for us.  Having said that, after sun can easily be done with 100% natural DIY ingredients:

Aloe vera gel mixed with 0.75% of Lavender and 0.25% Roman Chamomile. Keep refrigerated if you decide to mix a large batch and use a spoon or spatula to scoop out product since aloe vera has a high percentage of water to avoid contamination. This can be done also for sunburn and can be applied thickly on the effected area, Apply several times a day.

Citrus-based essential oils absorb higher amounts of the sun’s energy, creating sun sensitivities. Avoid applying these oils when planning to spend time outside, as the oils can cause the skin area to burn faster: Bitter orange, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Lime, Lemon,Tangerine, Sweet orange.

In summer, essential oils should be kept in a cool dry place. Avoid leaving them in the sun if taking any. For example, when lavender is taken to the beach as first aid rescue, place it in a cooler.

All the above information is given from research from books and sites with best intentions but one would always recommend a patch test on the inner elbow whenever a new essential oil is used.

References:

Complete book of aromatherapy by Valerie Worwood

Ifra dermal limits

EPA site

An introductory guide to aromatherapy by Louise Tucker.


Alexia Buttigieg is a holistic therapist who is passionate about everything that can help people feel better in a more natural approach, from massage to self-therapy to essential oils and reflexology. She believes that stress cannot be avoided but nature has given us all we need to reduce it, and live a more balanced existence. She started her career as a Beauty therapist and has achieved diplomas in Esteticienne and Physiatrics, where she was able to understand the anatomy and physiology of the human body. She furthered her studies by achieving diplomas in Reflexology (including palliative care) and Aromatherapy. Other certificate courses include tui na, facial analysis and ayurvedic stone massage.  In these past years she has ventured into natural cosmetics and read for a diploma and an advanced diploma in organic skincare formulation, which harmonises her passions for Aromatherapy and organic skincare treatments. Alexia still feels like her first role is being a mother to her daughter and prioritises family and their well-being. She may be contacted at naturannis@gmail.com

About Dr Antonella Grima


Dr. Antonella Grima M.D. M.Sc. Pg.Dip. is the founder of the Health and Nutrition Centre in Luqa, Malta. She is a Medical Doctor specialised in Public Health as well as a Registered Nutritionist. Read More >

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