Bites and Stings: General Action

Animal bites are not poisonous but they carry the risk of rabies, which is a very serious condition indeed. All animals have the potential to be infected, not only dogs and cats. Ticks feed on blood and spread infection, and the best course of action is to make yourself as unpalatable to them as possible.

In all cases of stings, whether from insects, fish, or plants, an antidote needs to be applied.

Without a doubt, prevention is the best line of defense and a few moments spent applying oil, cream or lotion might just save you a great deal of time and inconvenience, not to mention danger, later on. Essential oils are well known for their ability to keep you sting-free and are the active ingredient in many brand-name products.

When you use the real thing - the natural product unhampered by chemical solvents and the like - you have tremendous flexibility in their use. The same little bottle can give protection in a room, on the balcony, in a car, on the body, and even on your clothes. And then, if you are unfortunate enough to encounter trouble, the essential oils can help you to deal with it. Before looking at particular situations, let's have a look at the general action to be taken.


General Treatments

In many cases, you will need a disinfectant wash, especially if you have a brood of unruly and accident-prone children! The following blends are extremely effective and can either be made up before you go or on the spot if required.


  • Lavender 10 drops (2)

  • Thyme 20 drops (4)

  • Eucalyptus 10 drops (2)


  • Lavender 10 drops (2)

  • Thyme 20 drops (4)

  • Eucalyptus 5 drops (1)

  • Oregano 5 drops (1)

Use 8 drops of either blend in a bowl of water for washing. If you do not have the synergistic blend prepared, use the number of drops in brackets in a single bowl of water.


Animal Bites

If the skin is broken you should go to the hospital because you may need a tetanus injection. In any event, wash the area with mild soap and warm water in which you have added either, thyme or lavender essential oils, or, if you have it ready, one of the synergistic blends above. Then cover the wound with a bandage, piece of gauze, or plaster to which you have added 4 drops of lavender and 3 drops of thyme.


Insect Stings

If there is a visible sting, remove it but try not to squeeze and break the venom bag which may be attached. Apply 1 drop of neat lavender oil directly to the site of the sting. Continue to apply neat lavender, a drop at a time, every five minutes or as soon as the drop can be seen to be absorbed, until a total of 10 drops has been reached.


Plant Stings

As soon as you are stung, apply 1 drop of neat lavender or eucalyptus over the area and wash with cold water as soon as you can. Afterward, apply another drop of essential oil.


Fish Bites

Dry the area and apply 1 drop of neat lavender oil. Continue to apply neat lavender, a drop at a time, every five minutes or as soon as the drop can be seen to be absorbed, until a total of ten drops has been reached.



First, apply neat lavender to the area, then neat chamomile. One drop can be rubbed to cover quite a large area – use as many drops as you need. If the swelling is excessive as a result of an allergic reaction it should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. On your way there apply 1 drop of chamomile to the neck area, every fifteen minutes - to a maximum total of 4 drops.

And now to more specific advice on different types of bites and stings.


Rabies Bites and Scratches

Wash thoroughly as outlined for animal bites, then apply thyme and the strongest alcohol you have. Get to the hospital as soon as possible.



Poisonous fish and marine animals carry their venom mainly in their tentacles and spines. These can be extremely painful to extract and the risk of infection is always a problem, especially in polluted waters. Any visible spines should be removed and the area bathed in salt water; then apply neat thyme. For stings, wash the area in cold water and apply neat chamomile immediately.


Portuguese Man of War

The stings are extremely painful and cause shock, cramps, and vomiting. Remove any of the remaining tentacles and wash the area with whatever water you have. Then apply neat lavender all over the area and as the tissues absorb it, apply some more. When you get home wash the area with soap and water and apply chamomile, and continue applying lavender and chamomile every three hours for twenty-four hours. Keep the person warm and in bed or resting. Give plenty of warm liquids and Rescue Remedy (a homeopathic preparation that is widely available). Massage the whole body with the following oil once a day:

  • Eucalyptus 10 drops

  • Peppermint 2 drops

  • Geranium 10 drops

Diluted in 30ml vegetable oil



The small common jellyfish can give a slight sting with a reddening effect. Wash the area thoroughly as soon as you can with soap and water and apply 1 drop of chamomile or lavender oil and then ice.


Sea Urchins

If you happen to be unlucky enough to tread on a sea urchin the most important thing is to get all the spikes out. As these are extremely brittle and break easily, do be careful about it – and make sure that whatever you use to dig them out is sterilised first. After removing all the spikes and washing the area thoroughly apply 1 drop of neat thyme every three hours, for twelve hours. If the spikes prove difficult to get out buy a pawpaw and use the inside of the skin as a poultice. The enzymes in the fruit help to dissolve the traces of spike left in the skin and also soothe the area. The pain can be treated by using equal parts of these three oils:

  • Chamomile 10 drops

  • Lavender 10 drops

  • Eucalyptus 10 drops

Diluted in 30ml vegetable oil

Alternatively, use 2 drops of each - a total of 6 drops - to a teaspoon of oil.



Treat these stings as for sea urchins but apply lavender oil immediately, in addition to the thyme. The pain can be intense and last for up to forty-eight hours.



Bee stings are painful and may cause fever and headaches; an allergic reaction can further cause swelling, redness and rash. Try to remove the sting and apply a cold compress of chamomile to the area. Leave it for several hours if possible but if the sting is in an awkward place just hold the compress to it for as long as possible. In both cases, apply 1 drop of neat chamomile three times a day for two days.



Being alkaline, it helps if wasp stings are treated with cider or wine vinegar: into 1 teaspoon put 2 drops each of lavender and chamomile essential oil, mix well and dab on to the bitten area three times a day.




Dilute 3 drops of lavender and 2 drops of chamomile essential oil in a teaspoon of alcohol. Blend well together and apply to the area three times - over one day should suffice.


Lavender essential oil is reputed to neutralize the poison of this very nasty spider. Apply 10 neat drops to the area every two or three minutes until you get to the hospital.



You will only notice the tick by its swollen body attached to your skin Do not pull it out. A cigaretté placed on its body will make the tick drop off, or 1 drop of thyme will also do the trick. Then apply 1 drop of neat lavender every five minutes, to a total of ten, to avoid infection and reduce pain and swelling.


Hornet Bites

Follow the treatment recommended for bee stings, or use lavender neat, three times a day.


Gnats and Midges

Dilute 3 drops of thyme in 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice and apply to the bites. This will stop the irritation. As an alternative, dab on neat lavender.


Bed Bugs and Fleas

The important factor to avoid here is the risk of infection. Bathe the bitten areas and apply neat lavender. Alternatively, dilute 3 drops of thyme in cider vinegar and apply over the bitten area. Eucalyptus is another option - use as you would lavender.


Chiggers and Jiggers

These are burrowing insects which attack mainly through the feet. They lay their eggs in burrows under the skin and also spread infection. If red lines appear up the leg or there is swelling in the lymph glands see a doctor. Add 10 drops of thyme to a teaspoon of any alcohol and apply it to the area every three hours. The next day and thereafter apply neat lavender three times a day.



Sandflies can cause phebotomus fever which usually lasts about three days after the bite. Apply neat lavender as soon as possible after the bite and to prevent fever massage the whole of the body twice a day for a week:

  • Lavender 10 drops

  • Eucalyptus 10 drops

  • Thyme 10 drops

Diluted in 30ml vegetable oil

If you cannot get a container for this quantity quickly, use 3 drops of each oil in a dessertspoon of vegetable oil. The parasite carried by sandflies is responsible for this and for oriental sore (or Leishmaniasis) which can cause long-term ulceration of the nose and mouth with chronic illness, fevers and lesions that look like leprosy. Avoid all areas where sandflies are breeding and wear protective creams and oils wherever they are to be found.



As you can never know who that mosquito diving around your room bit before he started taking a swipe at you, it is only sensible to take all precautions possible to avoid getting bitten yourself. And when you put on your protective oil don't forget your face - it might be life-saving as well as face-saving! If you have already been bitten use neat lavender oil on the bite. If you've been bitten over a large area take 1 cup of cider vinegar or the juice of 2 lemons and add to it 10 drops of lavender and 5 of thyme. Put this mixture in a bath, swishing the water around before you get in. Afterwards, apply neat lavender oil to all the bites. Each night rub your body with the oil formula given for sandflies above, adding 5 drops of lemongrass to the mix.



Lavender has long been effectively used against the venom produced by the adders in mountainous regions of Europe, and it is about the best essential oil to use from the travel kit until you can get help. In any case, get help quickly. Wash the bitten part with whatever liquid you have available - water, alcohol, Coke or essential oil if that's the only liquid you can find, anything to try and remove he poison by washing. But do not move the bitten part as this might disperse the venom. Apply lavender essential oil - as much and as often as you want to - this is an emergency. Tie a bandage around the leg or arm to slow down the circulation



Apply soap and water as soon as possible to wash the area and then apply eucalyptus, lavender or chamomile, either neat or on a compress. A cold compress with 2 drops of one of these essential oils often stops the irritation within a few hours.