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From sunburn to bug bites: 5 natural home remedies for summer ailments

Dr. Taz Bhatia shares natural remedies for common summer pains using ingredients you likely have on hand. 

None of us go unscathed when it comes to the discomforts that come with enjoying the outdoors during the summer.

Whether you're camping, frolicking at the beach or gardening in your backyard, a day of fun in the sun often comes with a side of discomfort or pain thanks to the plants and critters we come in contact with.

But according to Dr. Taz Bhatia, integrative medicine physician, certified nutrition specialist and host of the “Super Woman Wellness” podcast, a trip to the drugstore may not be necessary. Whether your medicine cabinet doesn’t hold the antidote to your specific ailment or you’re looking for a natural alternative to the drugstore cure, she shares home remedies for common summer pains using ingredients you likely have on hand. 


If too much time in the sun has left you parched, an electrolyte drink can help to get you rehydrated quickly. Skip the Gatorade and make your own electrolyte drink by mixing water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and/or other citrus fruits, raw honey and a pinch of sea salt. “A small amount of salt taken with fluids can enhance hydration,” said Dr. Bhatia. 


Even the most diligent sunscreen appliers among us sometimes come home from a day at the beach only to notice that painful, red skin emerging in the mirror. Reach for Epsom salt as a natural sunburn remedy.

“To relieve a sunburn, dissolve one or two cups of Epsom salt in a bath and soak the parts of your skin that are sunburned,” Bhatia said. “Epsom salt is mostly magnesium, which decreases skin inflammation and helps hydrate dry or damaged skin.” You can also make an epsom salt compress if you need to target just one area by putting the salt inside a cheese cloth or soft washcloth, tying it up and using it as a compress.

Bug bites and bee stings

Itchy bug bites and burning bee stings are par for the course when it comes to enjoying time outdoors. But when they happen, quick relief is key. Bhatia recommends using lavender oil to treat bug bites and stings.  

“Lavender essential oil is a simple way to calm itchy bug bites,” she said. “Lavender oil is a gentle anti-inflammatory that decreases acute swelling, which makes it perfect for relieving mosquito bites or bee stings.” Simply roll it on or apply a few drops to the affected area as soon as discomfort occurs to control inflammation, itching and swelling. 

Poison ivy

When most people get a rash from poison ivy, “there is a central area, the idea is to attack (this) central area early so it doesn’t spread,” said Bhatia. She recommends mixing together aloe vera and tea tree oil for relief. Mix 3-5 drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of aloe and be sure to wear gloves to apply directly to the skin.

Jellyfish stings

Next time you go to the beach, pack a bottle or jar of vinegar, which is a great natural antidote to neutralize jellyfish stings. “If you or your child gets stung, rinse the sting with vinegar to stop the stingers from releasing more venom,” said Bhatia. “Don’t rub or ice the area, as both can drive the barbs further into your skin.”