“Be prepared.” These words are the reason my suitcase is habitually too heavy to lift, especially in the summer. I don’t like to be a worrywart, but as a mother of two little ones – and with an embarrassingly low pain threshold myself – I like to be prepared for summertime’s stings, scrapes and sore anything.
I’ve wasted one too many hours of precious vacation time in search of my favorite remedies away from home. These days I’m known for having everything from tea tree oil to arnica gel at the ready!
Here’s what I’d pack in a bottomless suitcase for every family trip to the mountains, coast or park:
Along with the common sense to stay out of the sun in the heat of the day and wear protective hats and clothing, follow these tips:
- Choose broad spectrum sun protection. “Broad spectrum” provides both UVA and UVB protection. Non-broad spectrum products or those with an SPF between 2 and 14 only protect against sunburn, not against skin cancer or early skin aging.
- Look for mineral-based (or physical) sunblocks. They reflect rays with minerals such as zinc oxide, and provide both UVB and UVA protection.
- Go beyond protection. Choose sun care that nourishes with nutrient-rich ingredients like green tea, soy, milk thistle, caffeine and carrot oil. Most importantly, use enough of it to be effective.
- Aloe vera gel (undiluted) soothes and promotes healing; look for high percentage in products.
- Calendula oil or St. John’s Wort extract help reduce body heat and soothe; add drops to lotion or a cool bath.
- Vitamin E oil, avocado oil or diluted lavender essential oil
- Cucumber juice and rosewater
- Taking B-complex vitamins and eating garlic and onions may make skin less tasty to mosquitoes.
Dilute essential oils in water or a carrier oil, then spray or rub on skin or clothes. Reapply often.
- For mosquitoes: lemon eucalyptus, citronella (lemongrass), evergreen, catnip, soybean and clove
- For biting flies: lavender, basil and geranium
- Colloidal oatmeal bath or lavender or peppermint essential oil soothes itching and promotes healing. Apply one undiluted drop on each bite.
- Garlic: hold crushed clove on sting for 20 minutes then rinse.
- Basil leaf (crushed or extract) soothes itching and stinging pain.
- Homeopathic remedies include ledum (wild rosemary) for swelling and Apis mellifica (honey bee) for stings.
MINOR CUTS, BURNS, SCRAPES & SPLINTERS
- Tea tree oil or witch hazel (in products or diluted) cleans and soothes.
- Comfrey, lavender or calendula ointment or compress promotes healing.
- Slippery elm compress may help dislodge splinters.
MUSCLE SORENESS, BRUISES & SWELLING
Try to avoid the "weekend warrior" scenario by exercising regularly. For times when full-on fun (and your competitive nature) beckons, herbal supplements such as ginger, turmeric, holy basil, green tea and rosemary support sore muscles, both preventively and for relief.
- Arnica gel or cream relieves swelling and pain.
- Bromelain (pineapple enzyme) helps soothe sprains and bruises.
- Capsaicin cream warms and soothes.
- Homeopathic remedies: Arnica montana, Magnesium phosphorus, Hypericum perf, Ruta grav, Ledum pal, Rhus tox.
Of course, you won’t need all of these remedies, but there’s no harm in being prepared!
What summer fun first aid do you never leave home without?