I’m often asked which (medicinal) herbs and essential oils a household should not be without and if you have children; my answer is without a question: Lavender Pure Essential Oil and Aloe Vera (Aloe vera syn. Aloe barbadensis) or even our own indigenous Bulbine (Bulbinella frutescens). If you want to expand on this must-have list, add Calendula Salve (Calendula officinalis) and Tea Tree Oil.
Aloe vera and Bulbine sap are excellent at soothing stings and insect bites and can also be used for burns, including sunburn. If at all possible, slit open the leaf and place gel side down on the affected part without discarding the outer leaf “peel” and secure. Re-do this dressing with new, and if you wish, refrigerator-cooled aloe leaves when needed. You’ll be amazed at how well Aloe works to heal and renew skin – it is rich in anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals and stimulates cellular metabolism.
Lavender pure essential oil is not only beautifully calming and soothing, as can be witnessed by the barrage of lavender scented baby products on the market, but it also has antiseptic and analgesic properties. It prevents infection, promotes healing and reduces scarring. It is the only essential oil that can be applied to the skin neat and is considered the safest essential oil to use with children. Simply add a drop or two to a scrape, burn, sting or bite to alleviate the swelling, pain, redness and itchiness. If necessary, you can repeat application every fifteen minutes.
Calendula cream is a well-known for nappy rash, but it is indispensible for all manner of topical problems. It decreases inflammation and swellings and is soothing to burns, sunburn, rashes and skin irritations as well as greatly reducing the symptoms of insect bites and stings. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Tea tree is analgesic, antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial. It reduces scarring and can be applied to skin infections, burns, scrapes, insect bites and stings. It can be applied to the skin in a salve or diluted with a carrier oil (e.g. grapeseed oil, almond oil or avocado oil). Although it is non-irritant to most skin types and have been known to be used neat, it is not commonly recommended to do so.
My daughter already knows about bulbine and aloe and I often find her smearing the sap on little scrapes or itchy mozzi bites. I think it is very empowering for her to be able to do something for her small ouchies all by herself.
An interesting bit of information I learnt the other day – a bee’s sting is acidic and need something alkaline to counter it, so remember Bicarbonate for Bees. Wasp stings on the other hand are apparently alkaline and you need to add something like apple cider vinegar to it.
Be watchful of insect bites which don’t get any better, or which seem very red or swollen. Also use common sense with burns and don’t take chances – there are some great first-aid burn kits available out there!
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