I came back from China three weeks ago, where I had the pleasure of attending my brother’s wedding…and sleeping on my mother’s couch. I had forgotten how fun Shanghai is…as well as how mosquito-ridden. The first night, I did somehow remember to rub the couch down with lavender oil before I climbed onto it, so I was bite-free the next day. The second night, however, the night of my brother’s wedding, I came home very late and just plunked myself down onto the cool, comfortable leather without another thought. Big mistake. HUGE.
I woke up the third day looking like a minefield, with miniature red volcanoes erupting on my legs, arms, and even on my face and chin. And, I was itchy all over. So what do you do when prevention is too late, when you’ve already been eaten alive by those godforsaken bloodsuckers? Well, the key here is to look for essential oils with “anti-pruritic” properties…anti-pruritic is just a fancy way of saying, “anti-itch.” Strangely enough, I had *thought* that Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) was one of these, but when I applied a few drops to my bites, they kept on itching, and I kept on wanting to scratch. Unfortunately enough, Lavender was also the only essential oil I had carted to China with me.
So I raided my mother’s stash that I had left behind last year, and to my delight, found the following: Cypress, Thyme, Peppermint, Lemon, Geranium, Cinnamon, Clove, and Eucalyptus. Which one do you think I reached for first? If you guessed “Peppermint,” you’re right. My mind went to its “cooling” effects first and foremost, and sure enough, putting about 15 drops of Peppermint essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil (I used my mother’s olive oil) and then rubbing the blended mixture on my bites felt ahhhhhh, so good. So good! I suppose if the Peppermint hadn’t worked immediately, I would have gone next with the Eucalyptus, since it is a great remedy for soothing sunburns, but I didn’t have to do that. Now I am thinking I will have to amend my “5 Ways to Use Peppermint Essential Oil” blog post to include a sixth use: calming down itchy mosquito bites!
When I got back home to the States, I went promptly to my “Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils,” by Julia Lawless, to look up other anti-pruritic essential oils, and the only one I found labeled as such was Peppermint (Mentha piperita)! How crazy is that? Well, word to the wise: bring Lavender on a trip to prevent the bite in the first place, but Peppermint to calm it down once you’ve been bitten.