Summer… just the sound of the word fills me with happiness and warmth. For many of us, summertime is synonymous with spending more time outside: going for walks, playing at the park, walking the dog (at least more often!), camping, bike riding, swimming, and virtually any activity that takes us outdoors. However, with increased outdoor activity comes the possibility for increased falls, cuts, and scrapes.
Therefore, it’s important to arm ourselves with first aid treatments that our kids won't mind us using on them (my kids always give me a hard time when I try to clean their wounds with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol).
Here are 5 homemade first aid options that will do the job while being gentle on our children's skin:
1. Cuts and Scrapes
When it comes to cuts and scrapes, our first instinct is to disinfect the wound using hydrogen peroxide or another antibacterial product, but new research shows we don’t need to disinfect minor wounds but rather wash it down with a saline solution or even run it under cold water to clean it. So once all the dirt is removed, you can apply:
Honey: Honey has natural antibacterial and anti-viral properties that help to decrease the likelihood for infection. Research shows that wounds kept moist heal faster than those that are dry. Cover the wound with gauze or leave it uncovered.
Thyme: Another option is to steep some thyme to make thyme tea. Steep for five minutes and then soak a towel or cloth in the “tea” and apply it to the affected area to clean it and soothe irritation.
Note: Of course if you have severe wounds or cuts, always seek medical help.
2. Bruises and Inflammation
If you have bruises and/or inflammation, try rubbing some pineapple onto it. Pineapple contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds and an enzyme called “bromelain” which helps to reduce inflammation.
Rub it directly on your skin to break down the blood that’s clotted to form the bruise. Bromelain helps to fade the bruise quickly and prevent further blood clots from forming.
3. Bee and Wasp Stings
The first thing to do when you get bitten is to remove the stinger.
For a Bee Sting: Make a paste of baking soda with water and leave it in the bite area for 15 minutes to neutralize the acidic venom to reduce the pain and swelling.
For a Wasp Sting: Soak some cotton balls or a cloth in vinegar and apply it to the bite for 15 minutes as well to eliminate the discomfort. My personal preference is to use apple cider vinegar because it works a little bit faster.
4. Bug Repellent
With the Zika virus in the news and on our minds, we want to keep mosquitoes (and other bugs) as far away as possible!
Basil leaves are great for repelling insects (especially mosquitoes) because they don’t like the scent. You can use them two ways:
- Steep basil leaves in boiling water for 2-3 hours then strain the steeped water into a spray bottle and use it on your body, windows, picnic tables, doorways, and anywhere else you often see bugs. You can add vodka to make it more potent.
- You can also rub basil leaves directly onto your skin for a quick repellent.
Another DIY tip is to add some essential oils like citronella, lemon eucalyptus and tea tree oil on a wipe and rub it on your kids body. I like our partner Natracare’s wipes because they’re organic and don’t contain any harsh chemicals.
Store-bought Bug Repellent: For everyday use, I prefer to use bug spray without DEET as it’s been linked to rashes, nausea and skin irritation. Look for one that doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, uses essential oils to repel the bugs and is safe for kids, pets and the environment. Two brands I recommend are North American Herb & Spice Herbal Protect X and Dr. Mercola’s Bug Spray, neither of which contain DEET or other harsh chemicals.
Read More: Say No to Mosquitos NaturallyIn the event you do get bitten, try the following:
- Rub a banana peel over the bite. The sugars in the peel help to draw the fluid out of the bite.
- Apply a cut up onion or onion poultice in the bite. Wash the area afterwards (avoid if the skin is broken).
- Apply a slice of raw potato.
- Peppermint or neem toothpaste works to relieve the pain and swelling.
When it comes to the summer sun, we’re under the hot sun all day so we need to do our best to apply our sunscreens often. A tip when it comes to sunscreen is to look for brands that are free of harsh chemicals like oxybenzone and parabens. A brand we use at home is Goddess Garden. They have wide range of products and in fact it was formulated by a mom, for her daughter, so they could avoid harmful chemicals.
Now if you missed a spot and do get a sunburn here’s a tip:
Apply aloe vera. While aloe vera isn’t a new concept – here is a fun new take on it. Grab some fun shaped ice cube trays and freeze some aloe vera gel in it so you have ready-to-go boo boo cubes when you need them (#booboocube).
Aloe vera contains 150 vitamins and minerals that help to relieve pain, fight inflammation and repair damaged skin cells. It also stops the burning sensation you experience with a sunburn.
I use Lily of the Desert’s Aloe Vera Gelly. You will notice how its color is clear – not green – like some of the other aloe gels on the market. That’s because the inside of an aloe vera plant is clear so be sure to look for a brand that doesn’t contain any artificial colors.
If you have any of your own first aid hacks, please share them with us in the comments below. I would love to hear about them. Have an awesome, and safe, summer!
Scientific American Is it true that the DEET used in most mosquito repellents is toxic?