Did you use to have the mosquito puzzle at school? The teacher asked, “What animal is responsible for the most deaths yearly?” Everyone would say sharks (responsible for about 6 deaths a year). Tigers are a better guess at 85 a year (although that seems to be rising slightly in India).
You’d be most unfortunate to be one of the two people attacked by rhinos. Luckily, these are rarely fatal, but I'd have thought you might need some helichrysum for the bruising!
However, according to the World Health Organization, mosquito bites result in more than 1 million deaths yearly. Today, we’ll look at the best essential oils for mosquito bites and repellents.
Do Essential Oils Help to Soothe or Prevent Mosquito Bites?
This is a contentious question. Essential oils are not drugs. They do not carry licenses and have not been tested in clinical trials. As such, we wish to observe the FDA’s medicines control laws and say that essential oils cannot “Cure, soothe or prevent” anything. Neither is any of our advice on this page meant as a substitution for medical advice.
That being said, antibiotics were invented by Alexander Fleming and Louis Pasteur in the nineteenth century. Before that, plants were the only medicines available, and many were used as herbal treatments for calming skin conditions and bites.
Also Read: Insect Repellent Essential Oils
8 Best Essential Oils For Mosquito Bites
1. Lavender Essential Oil
It was difficult to know what to put at the top of the leaderboard for the best essential oils for mosquito bites. What’s the priority when we ask what essential oil is good for mosquito bites? Do we want to calm the itching, introduce an anti-malaria element, or repel the little bleeders? Lavender is the best essential oil for mosquito bite itch torture. Not only that, but it is cooling, calming, and sedative. Roman Chamomile is not really mosquito specific, so it didn’t make its way onto the list of the best essential oils for mosquito bites, but combine it with a little lavender and geranium essential oils for mosquito bites on baby. There are more tips to stop scratching on our best essential oils for bug bites page if you need them.
2. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Eucalyptus is brilliant for any bites, including horse flies. It has a soothing element, but we suggest combining it with lavender to increase that.
Lemon Eucalyptus is especially useful as a deterrent. A study published by the Journal of American Mosquito Control compared the effects of lemon eucalyptus with the chemical repellent Deet. Deet provided 100% protection, whereas lemon eucalyptus provided 95% protection for 3 hours.
A key problem with essential oils is that they have no fixative properties. Plants manufacture them with the objective of them evaporating. As such, they are protective, but even the best essential oils for mosquito bites are only efficient for between two to three hours.
We should take care of using eucalyptus on children, however. It is high in a constituent 1,8 cineole which slows respiration and is not advised for children under 6.
3. Vetiver Essential Oil
It’s the female mosquito that causes the damage. She needs extra protein to lay her eggs, so she finds human blood to supplement that. Ordinarily, mosquitoes are useful pollinators, and they feast on nectar. She likes to breed in still water that becomes stagnant. In India, vetiver has been used to clean stagnant water for 5000 years.
An ancient set of medical texts relates that you will rarely find mosquitoes where vetiver is growing. They don’t like its fragrance. This idea was tested in a study published in the Journal of Entomology in 2018.
It was accepted that vetiver is a wonderful deterrent against one of the main vectors of malaria, Anopheles minimus. Still, the researchers wanted to take it further, wanting to know exactly which constituents might be responsible.
They tested valencene, terpinene-4-ol, isolongifolene, and vetiverol.
Vetiverol and isolongifolene showed contact irritancy to the insects at 1% while moderate action was found in valencene and terpinene-4-ol at 5.0%. High mortality (58.9-98.2%) was recorded in all concentrations of vetiverol and isolongifolene. However, valencene only exhibited high mortality at 5.0%, and Terpinene-4-ol showed very low toxic action (0-4.3%) in all concentrations.
Normally we would say only use essential oils at dilutions of less than 3%. However, vetiver is a safe non-irritant oil that can safely use up to 10% dilution for emergencies. Like lavender, vetiver is calming and soothing, as it is wonderfully cooling when the temperature increases.
4. Citronella Essential Oil
Patents for mosquito repellents containing essential oils have doubled every four years since 1998. A 2011 review of the patent literature found that essential oils were contained in a third of all the patent ingredients. Citronella and eucalyptus were the active components in half of them. Citronella is naturally skin-irritant, so it is probably not one of the best essential oils for mosquito bites. However, it is most certainly one of the most successful repellants along with eucalyptus. They mention others from our list of the best essential oils for mosquito bites and repellents.
Interestingly, one constituent was mentioned repeatedly as being good. Geraniol appears in many essential oils, especially geranium.
5. Lemongrass Essential Oil
It’s unsurprising that mosquito bite is a strong area for essential oils. Plants create secondary metabolites to attract pollinators and deter other, more problematic creatures or botanicals. This is actually what essential oils are for! Predictably, we find the most useful oils come from plants that grow in these countries where mosquitoes are found.
Lemongrass is one of these oils.
Culex quinquefasciatus is a medium-sized mosquito that makes its habitat close to houses. Sometimes referred to as the southern house mosquito, it feasts happily on mammalian and human blood and is a strong vector for malaria.
Thai researchers found that a combination of lemongrass essential oil and olive oil showed excellent activity with 98.8% protection from bites of C.quinquefasciatus for just under three hours
Another study, published in 2005, tested Lemongrass and East Indian Basil essential oils (the lesser-known Ocimum gratissimum ) on Plasmodium Berghei, a parasite that causes malaria in certain rodents. The tests were performed on mice, and both oils showed significant antimalarial activities. At concentrations of 200, 300, and 500 mg/kg of mouse per day, the lemongrass essential oil produced the highest activity with the respective percentages of parasitic suppression of 62.1 %, 81.7 %, and 86.6 %. O. gratissimum was also impressive but not quite as good. At the same concentrations, it scored 55.0 %, 75.2 % and 77.8 %, respectively.
Incidentally, as an aside, if your pet does start scratching, there are more tips on our page for the best essential oils for fleas.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is one of the best essential oils for mosquito bites. It repels adult mosquitoes and kills the larvae by spreading it as a film on water.
Basil and Patchouli were found to have the same abilities but to a lesser degree.
Apply it diluted to bite (not open skin) for immediate relief from itching.
7. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang-ylang is a beautiful fragrant tree that grows in Madagascar. Its name means flower of flowers, and it has been used in their traditional medicine for malaria since the turn of the century. It is an antivector and insect repellent.
In the same 2015 study that we cited in the lemongrass section of the best essential oils for mosquito bites, researchers also tested ylang-ylang against Aedes egypti, the main vector of yellow fever and dengue.
They found that ylang-ylang diluted in coconut oil gave 98.9% protection from its bites for around an hour and a half.
Ylang-ylang is cooling, relaxing, and soothing.
8. Angelica Root Essential Oil
Angelica extracts are traditionally used in Indian medicine against malaria symptoms, but little scientific data support their use. Angelica is cooling, soothing and antimicrobial.
How & Why You should Dilute Oils
Essential oils need to be diluted into fats. The best way to do this is to use vegetable oil such as jojoba, grapeseed, or similar. We have many carrier oils for you to choose from.
Best Essential oils for Mosquito Bites: DIY Recipes
- 10ml aqueous Cream
- 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 3 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil (Cananga odorata)
- 1 drop Vetiver Essential Oil (Vetiveria zizanioides)
Method of Use: Apply to the affected area. However, if the skin is broken, apply close but not directly over it.
Safety: Not suitable for use during pregnancy.
- 50ml Water
- 1 teaspoon Alcohol (Vodka works well)
- 10 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil (Cananga odorata)
- 3 drops Citronella Essential Oil (Cymbopogon nardus)
- 3 drops Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Corymbia citriodora)
Method of Preparation: Beware of using old oils in this recipe. The monoterpenes oxidize quickly and could cause skin sensitization. Disperse the essential oils into the alcohol, then add to the water in a spritzer bottle.
Method of Use: Re-spritz around you every hour or so.
What Else You Should Do to Relieve Bites
A vinegar dab can also help alleviate itching and soothe the skin.
When Should You See A Doctor?
- Symptoms should improve within a few days. See medical attention if they do not or seem to be getting worse.
- Sometimes, the venom can spread and become red and inflamed. If the redness covers more than 10cm, it may be worth contacting the doctor.
- Likewise, if the wound looks infected or fills with pus, you may need an antibiotic prescription.
- Bites around your throat or mouth or close to your eyes can be more dangerous. It’s worth getting those checked out if you are worried.
- You have symptoms of a more widespread infection, such as a high temperature, swollen glands, and other flu-like symptoms.
Also Read: Can You Spray Peppermint Oil On Plants?
The best essential oils for mosquito bites are from plants! There’s not so much more to know than that. The plants don't want them, so they scare them off with their lovely smells, and we can do the same. Usually, but not always, lemon-scented oils repel insects.
We can repair any damage using soothing oils such as lavender and chamomile and use ylang-ylang, vetiver, and angelica for their traditional antimalarial skills.