Home Remedies for Campers

Do bites, scrapes and sunburn put a damper on your love for the great outdoors? Try these homemade concoctions to ease your discomfort.

Been Stung?

  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Soaking the area will help relieve redness and swelling. Dip a cotton ball in vinegar and tape it to the sting site.
  • Meat Tenderizer. Treat the area right after you’re stung to break down the venom, reduce swelling and inflammation. Create a paste from meat tenderizer powder and water, apply and let sit for an hour.
  • Acetylsalicylic Acid. Apply an acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) paste to stop the itching by neutralizing the venom. Crush one or two ASA tablets and mix with water. Dab on the sting site.
  • Ice. Numb the area to slow the swelling. Wrap the ice in a towel and apply for up to 20 minutes.
  • Papaya. Lay a slice on the sting for an hour to neutralize insect venom.

Bites, Bites, Bites

  • Ice. Rubbing an ice cube on a bug bite decreases the inflammation that causes itching.
  • Peppermint Oil. A drop or two will have a cooling effect and by increasing circulation to the bite, speeding the healing process. Alternatively, if you have toothpaste that contains peppermint oil, apply a dab.

Poison Ivy

  • Alcohol. If it’s impossible to wash right away, clean your skin with rubbing alcohol or any product or beverage that contains alcohol to dissolve the urushiol (the poison in the ivy).
  • Vinegar. A vinegar compress will dry the rash and relieve itching. Mix ½ cup white vinegar with 1 ½ cups water, chill and apply directly to the rash for cool relief.
  • Cold Milk. Soak a cloth in cold milk and hold it against your skin to sooth to itchy skin.
  • Tea Bag. Press a moist old tea bag (black or green tea) against itchy skin. The tannic acid in tea eases inflamed tissue and itching.
  • Oatmeal. A warm bath with a few tablespoons of ground oatmeal helps dry a rash that has started to blister and relieve the itch.
  • Epsom Salt. To dry out the rash, relax in a bath containing Epsom salt. Follow the label directions.

Cuts and Bruises

  • Tea-Tree Oil. A great antiseptic, stir 1 ½ teaspoons of the oil into a cup of warm water and use to rinse cuts and scrapes.
  • Honey. Dab a little honey on a scrape and cover with a bandage. Honey speeds healing with its antibacterial properties. Don’t have a Band-Aid? Don’t worry—honey dries to form a natural one.
  • Saliva. If you can’t wash a wound, lick it. Saliva contains an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent.
  • Vinegar. Mixed with warm water vinegar increases blood flow near the skin’s surface and help dissipate the blood that has pooled in the bruise area.
  • Parsley. Spread a handful of crushed, fresh parsley leaves, over a bruise to reduce inflammation and pain.


  • Oatmeal. Added to a cool bath, ground oatmeal will sooth sunburn.
  • Green Tea. A compress of green tea helps to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation damage and reduce inflammation. Soak a cloth in cooled, brewed tea and apply.
  • Peppermint. Chill peppermint tea (or two drops of peppermint oil in a cup of lukewarm water) and bathe the burned area.
  • Cucumber or Potato. These veggies cool and reduce swelling for extra-painful sunburn. Rub the area gently with a slice.
  • Vinegar. Soak paper towel in white vinegar and apply until the towels are dry to ease pain, itching and inflammation.

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