Spread on fresh ALOE VERA GEL (from the leaves of the aloe plant) or products containing fresh aloe. How do you know if it’s fresh? Fresh products have an expiration date. Aloe soothes with anti-inflammatory plant sterols.

Aloe also contains tissue regenerative substances like zinc.

Comfrey – Contains allantoin which is incredibly skin cell regenerative. Apply a comfrey lotion or juice from the stem of comfrey leaves.

Calendula – Anti-inflammatory in action, this helps decrease the redness.

St. John’s Wort – Apply an extract or infused oil topically to heal the burned skin.

Green or Black Tea – Use cooled tea bags to relieve sunburned eyelids.

Baking Soda or Apple Cider Baths – Add a cup of baking soda (or apple cider vinegar) to a luke-warm tub and soak.

Herbal Soap – Always use natural oil based soaps when skin is dry and irritated. Commercial soaps can exacerbate the problem.

Never apply ointments, salves, petroleum or greasy, buttery substances to a burn. This will seal in the heat, clog pores and therefore deepen the burn and the pain.

Flaxseed Oil – Taken orally. Essential fatty acids will nurture the nerve cells (pain receptors) and act as an anti-inflammatory to decrease sunburn pain. Flaxseed oil also helps keep skin supple and flexible.

Gotu Kola – Tea or tincture taken internally heals tissues by stimulating collagen synthesis.

Vitamin C – Necessary for collagen production. Use both topically and orally.

Eat Brazil Nuts. They contain the amino acid 1-selenomethionine which reduce skin damage.

Take a zinc supplement or eat zinc-rich pumpkin seeds to speed tissue repair.

Take an anti-oxidant Vitamin E capsule as a skin cancer preventative measure.

Replenish skin by drinking lots of filtered WATER!

Surround yourself with plants and plant essences that repel mosquitoes. Add container gardens with citronella-exuding plants to your patios, decks and especially at entranceways. Lemongrass, lemon thyme, catnip and citrus scented geraniums contain 40-60% of the repellent power of DEET (without toxins or carcinogens). Buy a properly prepared insect repelling lotion or spray from a local herbalist. Look for insect repelling herbs like citronella (lemongrass), eucalyptus, bay laurel, lavender, thyme, geranium. Or make one yourself by adding some of these essential oils to water or witch hazel. Remember: Do not use products containing concentrated amounts of essential oils if you are pregnant/nursing or on children under 2. You can spray the outside of a baby’s stroller---or try the fisherman’s solution...vanilla extract! Add some of the pure vanilla bean extract (not the “flavoring” extract) to a lotion and apply to baby or mom’s skin.

Make a paste or poultice to “draw” bug venom out of the skin. This can be done in many ways:
- Mix facial clay with herb tea or witch hazel.
- Apply the healing/drawing power of Dead Sea mud.
- Mix baking soda with salt water (preferably sea salt).
- Rub fresh leaves to release volatile oils and hold on skin. Helpful leaves include: plantain, tobacco, or basil. (This is especially good for bee stings)
Other treatments:
- Apply St. John’s Wort extract and or aloe to numb the pain of a bite or sting.
- Exterminate chiggers by rubbing on an ointment containing mint and camphor.
- For itchy bites, use a salve or lotion containing jewelweed. Jewelweed acts like a topical anti-histamine.

All plant-induced rashes will respond equally well to the following treatments: If you suspect contact, get those clothes in the wash and yourself in the shower. Scrub head to toe with liquid soap and loofah. Then throw the loofah away!

If you are camping or stuck outside for the day, remember that often the antidote grows near the culprit plant. Jewelweed (with it’s orange or yellow trumpet-shaped flowers—not to be confused with trumpet vine) can often be seen growing near poison ivy. Its leaves contain “lawsone” which can beat poison ivy’s skin irritating “urushiol” to the skin-cell binding sites (so the sooner you use it, the better). Crumble the leaves and rub on the affected area. If there is no jewelweed in sight, rubbing any green leaf on the area will help. Try dock, comfrey, plantain, chickweed. You can also purchase jewelweed extract or lotion to bring in your backpack. One clinical study showed that jewelweed remedies were more effective than cortisone cream. Other good topical remedies include those made with comfrey, calendula or aloe. Never put an ointment or oily remedy on an oozing rash. Better to use a liquid-base or gel-based lotion.

If you have been “attacked” by poison ivy, eating a lot of chlorophyll-rich foods will boost your endurance and decrease the allergic reaction. Eat spinach, drink nettles tea or use a spirulina or algae powdered supplement to boost blood levels of chlorophyll. Taking flaxseed oil (by mouth) will also decrease the intensity of the itch by nurturing nerve cells and decreasing inflammation.

NOTE: If scratched, bites and rashes can become infected. Bites or rashes that are located around the eyes, ears, nose or mouth need serious medical attention. Severe sunburn can be accompanied by more serious problems like dehydration. If your burns, bites or rashes are more than just uncomfortable and irritating, abandon the above methods and seek medical attention.

For more information on herb and health related topics, visit or call us at 804-275-1027.

Author's Bio: 

Laura Davimes is an herbalist, researcher, educator and herbal products formulator living in Richmond, VA. She is an advocate of natural solutions for health concerns.