Why do I always get bitten and natural ways to deal with bites

We’ve all said this at one time or other.  Why do I always get bitten when my wife/husband/mum/dad/brother/sister etc never get bitten at all.  Well believe it or not there are so many factors which determine whether that mosquito or biting fly will choose you.  And there are natural ways to deal with bites if you do get bitten.

Scientists in the field of insects have discovered that it all begins with how we smell to those insects.  There are proteins found in mosquitoes’ antennae and heads that literally work in conjunction with the natural odours we omit from our skin.  The odours act like ‘markers’ to bugs like mosquitos and biting flies which share similar genes – and the markers will help them to find us and bite us.  Our odours, as they bind with certain chemicals in the air, will literally act like beacons to those insects and guide them towards those they intend to bite. But we all smell different to our biting friends and some scientists suggest that it’s certain characteristics in our bodies making some of us more desirable to bite than others.  Many things contribute to this theory – pregnancy, body temperature, alcohol levels and even how much carbon dioxide we have in our breath. 

To a biting bug even our blood type will determine whether they will bite or not.  Someone with AB blood will release a different odour marker than someone with blood type B.  One study has actually shown that those with blood type O will get bitten more than others literally because they emit more odourant markers.

Once a bug has bitten you it will release a anticoagulant in its saliva.  In response to the bite our bodies will naturally produce histamine at the site of the bite. Histamine is the protein used by our bodies to initiate immune responses, which include irritation and itching.  It’s this that will make that bite itch! For those who don’t want to resort to anti-histamine based creams and pills once we’ve been bitten here are some great natural and organic ways to deal with bites:

Dip a cloth in hot water and hold it against the bite until you feel the bite tingle. Repeat once or twice. Your nerves will become confused and the itching will vanish for hours. The heat causes all the histamine in the skin surrounding the bite to be released at once.  You should get a good few hours of temporary relief.

Dab some toothpaste over the bite area. This can help to relieve itching. Regular flavoured toothpaste works best.  Don’t use gel toothpaste as it won’t work.  Dollop it onto the bite and leave it on overnight. Wash it off on the morning with cold water and a mild soap or body wash cream. The toothpaste will have dried out the bite and stopped the irritation.

Use your fingernail to press an “X” into the bite. This simple action disperses the protein in your body and stops the itch for a while.

Apply ice cubes to the bite.  For some, a simple ice cube will alleviate itching.

Cut a slice of raw potato and place on the bite. Rub the open side of the potato on the bite. The sap of the potato will dry over the bite and help alleviate the itching.

Cut a lemon or lime and rub gently on the bite. Alternatively splash a little juice on the bite.  Citric acid has itch-relieving properties.

Use cooled tea. It can work wonders when applied to insect bites.  Moisten some cotton wool in the cooled tea and apply to the bite.

Use Lavender Oil. Dab a little Lavender Oil directly onto the bite. Lavender Oil can relieve the itching quickly.

Apply Aloe Vera gel to the bite area. For some Aloe Vera can relieve itching.

Peel a banana and rub the inside of the banana skin onto the bite to stop the itch.

Apply honey to the bite area to alleviate itching.

Witch Hazel has anti-itch properties and works very well on itchy bites.  Apply with cotton wool and use directly on the bite.  You can also add a few drops of  Lavender Oil to it which will help minimize itchiness and the chance of infection. For many, Witch Hazel gives instant relief.

Whatever method  works for you remember one thing.  Don’t scratch that bite!  The more you scratch the more it will itch!

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The success of ants

As insects go, the success of ants is pretty impressive and they are possibly the most successful insects when it comes to distribution.  With the exception of Antarctica, the Artic and a couple of islands, ants have spread to just about every piece of land on earth and have literally conquered the globe.

Scientists in the field of insects have estimated that there are at least 1.5 million ants on the planet for every human being.  Now that’s success.  Over 12,000 species of the ant are currently known to exist and many live in tropical regions.  To put their true numbers into perspective one single acre of Amazon rainforest is likely to house a colony of 3.5 million ants.

Ants generally live in colonies of huge numbers but not all ants build nests.  Some ants are literally homeless.  There are 200 known species, often referred to as army ants, who have two phases in their life – nomad and stationary.  During the nomad phase, ants are on the move all day, targeting other ant colonies for food.  At night the nomad ants will build a temporary nest but will continue travelling during daylight.  When the time comes for the Queen of the colony to lay her eggs, the ants will cease travelling and enter a stationary phase as the ants wait for the eggs to hatch.  During this time, ants use their own bodies to make a nest around the Queen, to protect her, their food and her eggs.

Ants know how to bargain.  Ants will shelter within plants and shrubbery and in exchange for that shelter the ants will defend and shield the very plant they are hiding within.  They will guard it from other insects or herbivorous mammals and will even prune away any parasitic weeds that may be attempting to grow on their host plant.  In other words, ants will use their host plant to their own advantage by protecting it as they use it.

Ants have also learned that being social really does pay off.  They divide jobs within the colony amongst all the different ants so that each ant knows specifically what it’s doing.  All the ants working within a colony are female. The male ants do not work – they are literally redundant and are only required to mate with the Queen of the colony.  The Queen does not work either as her only job is to lay eggs.

In fact ants are so clever that one species has even found a way to reproduce without the need for the male ant at all.  Researches in the field of insects discovered that a species of ant found in Central America has the ability to reproduce sexually so that all the ant offspring are clones of the Queen herself.

We cannot underestimate the success of the ant.  Their huge distribution globally is only rivaled by that of humans.  Whilst some ants live in natural crevices and openings in small numbers, the average ant colony contains thousands.  There are also super colonies which can be found around the world including the USA, Australia and Southern Europe containing more than 300 million individual ants.

Next time you see a trail of ants in your kitchen spare a few seconds to marvel at the success of this humble insect.

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Effective Herbal Head Lice Treatment

Most kids at some point will get the dreaded head lice and need effective head lice treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, head lice like nothing better than cleanly washed hair. They won’t live on dirty hair. Unfortunately once one child gets lice, it will spread like wild-fire, ensuring that a lice outbreak is thorough. In reality, lice cannot live long once they have dropped out of someones hair so they cannot form a colony in your carpet or furniture.
In the old days, spraying chemical pesticide was the norm. Nobody gave much thought to the horrors of what was inside the chemicals and what untold damage it was doing to our bodies as it absorbed the insecticide and the fumes. Actually lice are becoming tolerant of many chemical pesticides. This not only makes them harder to kill but gives us even more reason to take a natural approach.
The life cycle of lice is complex. If you kill or comb out all the adults with a lice comb, it is time consuming and you would need to to remove the lice and the eggs. The more you comb, the more will hatch and those lice won’t lay eggs themselves until they are 10 days old. At this stage the lice will not jump to another head until they are laying eggs. The maximum life of lice about 40 days. The females lay 7-10 eggs daily, touching or nearly touching the scalp, as this is the only place with the right temperature for hatching. The louse feed up to 5 times daily and while feeding injects saliva containing anticoagulant which causes the hosts sensitivity and thats what causes an itchy head.
The health shops and supermarkets are now awash with all-natural herbal remedies which really do work and actually are more effective than typical pesticide treatment.  An extremely good herbal treatment for lice is Neem oil. Neem oil is totally natural and made from the seeds of the Neem tree (Azadirachta Indica) a native of India. The oil has been traditionally used as an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, treatment for skin diseases and as an insect repellent.   Neem oil is used on humans, on animals, and on plants, for a huge range of different problems and diseases.
There are Neem Shampoos already on the market which can be used periodically to keep lice investation at bay. However using Neem oil on a lice outbreak is easy, non-toxic and child friendly:
Mix 2 ounces of olive oil with 15 to 20 drops of Neem oil. Apply to the scalp using cotton balls. Leave this mixture on the scalp and hair overnight—at least 12 hours. Or  pour the mixture in to a spray bottle and saturate the hair with it, leaving it in for 12 hours. Wrap a towel around your child’s head – or even better, and if your child does not kick up too much of a fuss, pop a shower cap on their head to maximize the effectiveness.
The following morning, comb out your child’s hair. Then, shampoo, rinse, and repeat. At this point you could use a regular Neem Shampoo.  A.Vogel do an excellent shampoo that retails at around £5.99 in most UK health shops. Once the lice have been eliminated, the spray bottle can be permanently topped up with Neem and olive oil and used as a preventive treatment. Remember—combing out the hair is absolutely essential to remove all the lice and eggs! Invest in a good lice comb.
Whilst essential oils are all natural, organic and friendly, do remember that they should not be used around babies and pets.

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