Bug bites and stings are an inevitable part of summer. Despite using bug-repelling plants, citronella candles, and swatting away pesky mosquitoes, I can’t seem to avoid those itchy bites! This 100% natural bug bite balm, made with a few simple ingredients, provides soothing relief for the redness, itching, and swelling.
And it doesn’t sting like other bug bite remedies, which is a huge bonus. Oh, and—did I mention?—it also smells wonderful!
How to Soothe Bug Bites Naturally
For this balm, I chose ingredients based on how well they take the sting out of bug bites. If you have children (or even if you don’t), you know how impossible it can be to get them to stop. scratching. Those. Nasty. Bites.
It’s all they want to do! So it’s important to choose essential oils and butters that have been shown to soothe inflammation, calm the fire, and get rid of the itch.
Here are my go-to ingredients for whenever I make my own soothing bug bite balm:
Calendula – Not only is calendula super soothing, but it’s also a major anti-inflammatory that’s been used for centuries to treat wounds [source] that just won’t seem to heal. If you’re in a hurry, you can buy calendula oil at the store, but we recommend making your own fresh calendula oil for maximum skin-soothing benefits if you have the time.
Tea tree – Tea tree essential oil is known for its anti-pain, anti-swelling, and anti-itching qualities. It’s also antibacterial and antifungal, so it should help keep those annoying bug bites from getting infected [source].
Lavender – Lavender is a powerful anti-inflammatory [source] with soothing pain-relieving effects [source] that quickly take the pain and itch out of bites.
Beeswax – All-natural beeswax provides healing and moisturizing properties. Plus, it gives this bug bite balm a solid, balmy consistency. If you’re vegan or would prefer to use a cheaper alternative, you can use natural candelilla wax in place of beeswax.
Shea butter – Often used as a natural body lotion, shea butter contains many types of fatty acids that work as moisturizers, antioxidants, and a high vitamin E content [source].
Avocado – Avocado oil has been shown to promote collagen formation [source], moisturize chapped skin, reduce age spots, and it has a thick, soothing consistency that I love.
How to Make a DIY Bug Bite Balm
This recipe is pretty versatile. While the ingredients are tried and tested in my home, they’re not the only ones you can use. It’s pretty hard to mess this up, so feel free to test out different combinations of oils until you find something that works for you.
-2 tablespoons raw shea butter
-2 tablespoons avocado oil
-1 ounce pure beeswax
-1 teaspoon calendula oil (not essential oil)
-15 drops lavender essential oil
-15 drops tea tree essential oil
To get started, melt all of the ingredients in a small pan over low heat. The mixture will be very hot—so be careful!
It needs to be hot enough to melt the wax so that the other ingredients can be combined properly. It does set quickly once it’s off the heat, so you’ll want to work fast.
Pour the melted oils into a small glass jar and let cool for several hours or overnight.
(I prefer to use several small jars that are easy to toss in my bag or keep in the medicine cabinet, but your bug bite balm can easily be poured into an empty lip balm tube for hands-free application.)
And that’s it! This recipe makes a pretty solid bug bite balm that won’t melt in the heat of the summer. If you prefer a softer cream, use half as much beeswax. It makes about 5 ounces of balm, which should last one person the entire summer.
Bug Balm FAQs
Can this bug bite balm be used as a lip balm?
Sure, I don’t see why not! You can also use it to moisturize dry hair or soften parched skin after spending time in the sun.
Will this go bad or get moldy after a while?
Since we don’t use any liquid or food-based ingredients in this recipe, it shouldn’t. But oils can still go rancid after a while, so keep an eye out for weird smells or a change in consistency.
Can I add peppermint oil to this?
Yes, peppermint oil is wonderful for soothing itchy, irritated skin. Its scent is incredibly strong, though, so only add 2–3 drops at most.
Is calendula oil the same as calendula essential oil?
No, when we say “calendula oil” in this recipe, we’re referring to a carrier oil, such as olive or jojoba, that has been infused with calendula, like the process here.
Do you have any recipes for natural bug repellant?
Of course, we do! This one is an all-time favorite.
Is 1 ounce of beeswax measured by weight or by volume?
It’s measured by weight. An ounce of solid beeswax is approximately 2 tablespoons melted.
What else can I use besides lavender essential oil?
Chamomile, peppermint, and rose geranium are all soothing essential oils that can help take the itch out of bug bites. Just make sure to keep the same number of total drops in the recipe when switching out essential oils.
What can I use in place of the avocado oil?
Any neutral carrier oil will work, but you can try olive, coconut, jojoba, or almond oil.
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All-Natural Bug Bite and Sting Balm
- One 4-ounce jar or several smaller containers
- 2 tablespoons shea butter
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 ounce beeswax
- 1/4 teaspoon calendula oil
- 5–10 drops lavender oil
- 5–10 drops tea tree oil
- In a small pan, melt shea butter, avocado oil, and beeswax. Stir well.
- Remove from heat and stir in calendula, lavender, and tea tree oils.
- Let cool slightly, then pour into small jars or lip balm containers. Let cool completely.
1. Givol O, et al. A systematic review of Calendula officinalis extract for wound healing. Wound Repair Regen. 2019.
2. Carson CF, et al. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006.
3. Cardia GFE, et al. Effect of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil on acute inflammatory response. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018.
4. Da Silva GL, et al. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. An Acad Bras Ciênc. 2015.
5. Lin TK, et al. Anti-Inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2018.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has more than 20 years of practice experience. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.156
Hi just hit on this recepi I have made my own calendula oil I made it with avocado oil so I will just add the whole oil .i have made balms in the past . I have just ordered lip tubes could I make this as a lip balm ?
I have bug bites with swollen welts due it sensitive skin I need help I will try
The bug balm
Rebecca Adams says
I don’t know if this post is still active, but I just stumbled across it. Occasionally, these balm will get moldy, if the liquid ratio is just so. Squeeze a capsule or two of vitamin E into the balm and mix before pouring it into dispensers. The vitamin E is great for your skin and is a natural preservative. You see it listed in products as tocopherol. Pouring this into old altoid tins or similar is a great way to keep some in camping supplies, glove boxes and picnic baskets. And finally, the lavender and tea tree are naturally insect repellents. You can add drops to a spray bottle of water or water and glycerin and shake it well each time you use it. Add the vitamin E if you think it will last longer than a week. Spray it on people and clothes for tick repellent.
Would love to make this. Does this melt in heat? It’s tropical climate where I’m from, and having melted balm is the last thing I want to deal with if my kids leave it in their schoolbag.
Hello, do you know if I can make a minty/cooling variation of this? Can I add some mint oil in here?
I am definitely going to try this!! How long does the bug bite balm last?
Heather D says
This sounds great! Can’t wait to try it. One questing though – is calendula oil the same thing as calendula essential oil? Which did you use?
Stephanie Gerber says
No, our calendula oil is not an essential oil – it’s an oil like olive or almond that has been infused with calendula.
Do you have any récipes for keeping bugs away; a natural repellent? I hate mosquitoes in the house at night & also the pesky Little flies that seem to appear on hot days…….. I don’t like spraying with commercial products as they are obviously laden with nasty chemicals.. Thanks!
I heard that they don’t like lemon-eucalyptus or lavender oil, thyme oil is supposed to be one of the best repellents, and soybean oil is thought to be more effective than citronella (which is one of the most commonly found repellants).
With oils though, make sure they are diluted enough, otherwise they can be harmful.
That sounds amazing, would love to try! How long it is durable?
This recipe is really good! Can you do a foot scrub later please? :)
Robin W says
This looks so nice. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I could make something like this for myself. Just awesome and thanks so much for sharing!
Is the 1 ounce of beeswax a weight or a liquid measure? (I have never used beeswax, I don’t know if there’s a standard.
Can’t wait to make and try this, I am delicious, and often plagued by bites! (I also have a pretty good natural repellant made up, but I can’t always keep EVERYONE away.)
Lindsey Johnson says
It’s by weight. 1 ounce is equal to two tablespoons once it’s melted. Hope that helps! We absolutely love this balm. We’re using it for everything these days! :)
Thanks so much! I’ll try to get time to make some up this week, I’m off to mosquito Central on Friday…
Virginia G. Hale says
Wish my Mom would have had this when I came home from Girl Scouts Summer Camp! I was covered in bites, so my Mom put me in the bath tub with warm water and a cap full or bleach, made me sit in it about 15 minutes and them she bathed me down, rinsed me off in clean water. Kill all of the little buggers, no itch at all! Used Witch Hazel on the bites so I didn’t have any scars.
Thank God for Great-Grandmothers for all the old time knowledge that they pass down to my Mom & she passed it down to me!
Thanks Gran!! Miss you lots!
Estelle Stone says
Hello! This looks wonderful. Is there anything I can use instead of Lavender EO? My son is allergic to Lavender. Also, do you mean Calendula Essential Oil? or Calendula Oil as in like Olive Oil? Thank you!
Cinnamon Spring says
This bug bite balm recipe sounds amazing – will definitely need it here in Malaysia where it’s summer all year round and full of insects :( The only difficult part is finding beeswax and pure shea butter here….!
Lindsey Johnson says
Let me see if I can find an alternative for you!
Jennifer Bill says
This is a fantastic recipe!! However I wondered if its ok to use coconut oil in place of the Shea butter?
I happen to have it already.
Sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to make this
I was just wondering the same thing. I don’t even know where to get avocado oil. But I always have the coconut oil.
Lindsey Johnson says
You could use coconut oil! I get avocado oil at Costco in big bottles. It’s cheaper than the olive oil. :) You could use any oil for this I think.
Lindsey Johnson says
I think that would be fine!
Thanks! I’m going to try this using my homemade calendula oil in place of the avocado. :)
Lindsey Johnson says
That would work great! I have a difficult time finding dried calendula (I could order online), but I think that’s probably the best option. Let me know how it goes!
Jen @ Cuddles and Chaos says
Ooooh, I can’t wait to try this! My daughter has really sensitive skin and gets big welts from mosquito bites that itch like crazy. I’m totally going to make some and throw it in my purse so I have it wherever we go!
Lindsey Johnson says
Jen, I’ve also been using it on a rash I have on my leg – still not sure what the cause is, but it’s almost gone and has stopped itching. I love this balm SO MUCH. :) Hope it helps your daughter!
Oh, where was this post after Memorial Day weekend? I got 88 mosquito bites while backpacking!
Lindsey Johnson says
Ha! That’s a lot of bites!