My guess is that you are visiting this page because you, your husband (just guessing!) or your child has bug bites. And I’m sorry to hear that. They can really, really impact badly on you. I’m American and have been living & working in New Zealand for 16 years. I have been helping people deal with sandflies and bites for 13 years now, and I will give you as many ideas as I can.
These ideas will apply to mosquito bites as well. And, being the creator of natural repellent and bite soother Goodbye Sandfly, and author of Why Natural Matters, the ideas will be more natural. Because that’s what I believe in. With respect, Becky
Sweet First Timers
Sandfly bites often turn into a raised red welt that itches horribly usually in the middle of the night! If there are quite a few bites, the whole area can swell. You may have on and off itching for a few days to even several weeks before the bites to completely heal.
What is happening is that the saliva of sandfly (can you believe that you are interested in the saliva of a sandfly??) has a protein that our bodies have to deal with. If your body has not seen the protein before, it may have a harder time dealing with it, than a person who has a finely honed sandlfy saliva, protein digesting machine of a body. Our body’s response to the bite is a reflection of how much hassle this protein is causing. Your goal is to help your body process this protein.
As an American, I’ve experienced first timer’s disbelief that such a creature exists and can cause so much discomfort. Many Kiwis just grow up with sandflies as a fact of life, and don’t even realize how iconic and horrible they can be to visitors. There is a wide range of reactions possible to sandfly bites. If you are new to sandflies, you may find that you are “sweet”, in other words the sandflies like you better than they like the locals.
Becoming a “Local”
People often find that they respond less badly over months as their bodies get used to processing the bites, and can actually reach a mythical state where you have almost no mark and no itching with bites. This is small comfort if you are visiting Milford Sound for the day. It’s enough to drive the most brave natural souls to consider applying chemical bug repellents. We make a natural repellent and bite soother, Goodbye Sandfly. It is made to deal with the sandflies. We have used it for 13 years including some very exciting years of living on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand with our two small children. We had sandflies joining us in our house if we left the wrong windows open, so we learned a whole lot about dealing with them, because they allowed us to PRACTICE every day!
Top Tips for Avoiding Getting Bitten:
1) The best defense against getting sandfly and mosquito bites is to dress well: Long sleeve, ankles and feet covered, you know- pretty much covered up.
2) Find a repellent that you know, like and trust and that your kids think is great. That way you avoid wrestling your child down to give them a spray of something they don’t want to know about.
Soothing Sooner is Better
Years after using our natural repellent Goodbye Sandfly, we noticed that if we soothed the bites quickly, they healed faster. We put Goodbye Sandfly on straight away after being bitten, it reduces the severity of the bite. As many of you won’t have Goodbye Sandfly on hand, JUST in this moment, you can use a good cold pressed vegetable oil, like olive and add a small amount of tea tree. Here’s a quick recipe. 1 Tablespoon Olive oil and 2 drops of tea tree essential oil.
This is because you are immediately disinfecting and soothing the sandfly or mosquito bite before a reaction begins.
We’ve found that applying a bite soother as a gentle massage just before bedtime will set you up for a better sleep. It may not be itching when you go to bed, but chances are, those bites will wake you.
Don’t Scratch! (even if you feel insane)
Scratching extends the healing time and can cause infection. This is where bites can turn into real problems. Don’t scratch. Gently massage a bite soother on the irritation instead.
Heating and Cooling
There’s can be alot of heat and swelling associated with a sandfly or mosquito bite. Cooling bites gently will soothe- but you do not want to ice them, because the body contracts so greatly that the process of clearing the bite from the body is shut down. On the other side, you do not want to heat skin that already has heat- so if you have a bath, not too hot, and be even more mindful of staying out of the sun.
You can place your hand over the bites with the intention of easing pain, clearing swelling or being of assistance as the body needs it. One of the hands on treatments is called Reiki, and it can be very calming.
Other Natural Remedies
Over the years we have tried several other natural remedies. We have applied raw onion or raw apple (our 6 year old swears by both), straight lavender or tea tree essential oils (sorta works), homoeopathics (have seen two miracle treatments), massage and gentle point pressure (works pretty well).
There are several herbs which have antihistamine properties, and you may benefit from taking them as an infusion (tea), or adding them to a bath (warm- not too hot) or compress. When taken as a tea, the herb will support your whole body to process the bites. Herbs to try are chamomile, peppermint, basil, echinacea, fennel, oregano & tea (green or black).
Get through it and try again
If you are one of the unlucky ones that is reading this with legs covered in bites, all I can say is, survive this round of bites as best you can and try NOT to scratch. If your bites are getting out of hand, or you’re not sure if they are getting better, see a professional (doctor, homeopath, naturopath….).
Sandfly Report for More Information on Sandflies, Bites, Diseases
With 14 years of living with sandflies, I have learned a LOT about being comfortable even when they are around.
I’ve put it all together in the Sandfly Report. It’s a 12 page PDF with some images, and it’s available to you for free, no opt-in….click the image below.
Thankfully, we don’t have any sandfly diseases here in New Zealand, but I include a brief section on Leishmaniasis as I know it is a problem in many parts of the world.
Wishing you good health in our beautiful, sometimes buggy world. With respect, Becky