AllergiesNatural Remedies

Treat Itchy and Painful Bug Bites Using Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is a plant with powerful medicinal properties. It has broad, toothed oval leaves, and golden yellow flowers. One of the main species of Bug Bites is “Hamamelis Virginiana’. This plant is also used to produce an astringent which acts as a cooling agent and has various uses in traditional medication and skincare(1). This is where using Witch Hazel for bug bites comes into play.

For infants who suffer from diaper rash, witch hazel is one of the most effective natural ingredients that are used to treat them. It is an over-the-counter drug for soothing minor skin irritations. It is also used to treat Eczema and Psoriasis. Witch hazel is basically water distilled from the leaves and stems of “Hamamelis Virginiana.’ It is not a typical essential oil.

Due to its antioxidant and antitumor activities, Witch hazel for bug bites has become one of the common remedies. Let’s see how it works.

Why Does it Work? 

Witch hazel water is the most commonly found commercial preparation, usually kept in most homes as a typical cooling agent or astringent. It can be used on the skin for the treatment of itching and inflammation, as well as a remedy for eye irritation. Creams containing witch hazel seem to relieve mild skin irritations and help in improving symptoms of skin injury, especially in children.

It works well in the case of bug bites due to its astringent effect and also because it contains tannins that have an anesthetic effect. Witch hazel, when applied to the skin, reduces inflammation and irritation that the bite causes. It helps in speedy recovery and healing. It contains antioxidants that help in preventing the inflammation. Hence, using witch hazel for mosquito bites or bug bites can be a very good solution(2).

How to use witch hazel for bug bites?

witch hazel

There are various forms in which this ingredient can be used to reduce skin irritation caused by bug bites. They are the following:

  • There are lotions that contain Witch Hazel. You can use any lotion with about ten percent of the extract. It is enough for the skin irritation to subside. It also helps in reducing the redness of the skin caused by the bite.
  • In order to reduce irritation caused by bug bites, you can apply witch hazel to a cotton ball and gently dab or wipe it over the bite. Once it is applied, allow it to dry and repeat it every few hours till the bite heals. Since witch hazel is watery as it is distilled from the leaves and stems of “Hamamelis Virginiana’, there is no need to dilute it in a carrier oil, unlike other essential oils.
  • In the case of children below the age of 15, an ointment that contains witch hazel can be applied several times a day to soothe the irritation that is caused by bed bugs.
  • Concentrated witch hazel can be used in extreme cases to shrink the bites for both- children and adults.
  • Witch hazel pads are also available in the market that you may carry along with you for constant application whenever required, especially when you are traveling or out for work.
  • You may add this product into a regular face pack or mask in the required quantity and apply it in the area affected. It may help soothe the bug bite and cure it too.
  • This ingredient is also included and used in a few medications which give those products the ability to either slow down or completely stop bleeding, these medications might be useful in treating stings, insect bites, bug bites, teething, rashes, irritations, and many related conditions(3).

Side effects

It is said that witch hazel is safe to be used by most people at home for treatment but it can have an allergic reaction. It is very important to do a patch test.

  • The side effects can include redness, itching, and even more irritation than what the bug bite initially caused.
  • Ingesting this can lead to a stomach infection and may upset your stomach if not taken in the appropriate concentrations.
  • Oral medication should only be taken in case of a recommendation by your doctor.
  • It can also cause contact dermatitis.


Applying creams, lotions, concentrated extracts of the Witch Hazel helps a lot in the case of bug bites and in curing the redness, rashes, itchiness, and irritation in the bite. However certain points must be kept in mind while using it like there should be no alcohol content in the product with this extract etc. It is a temporary relief from rash but if the rash/itchiness persists, you must consult a dermatologist for proper investigation and further due course of the treatment.

Also Read: Benefits and Uses of Witch Hazel Water


1. Can Witch Hazel Extract Be Prepared at Home?

It can be prepared at home. Soak 1 Tablespoon hazel bark in 1 cup of distilled water for around half an hour. Boil it and then reduce it to a simmer for 10-15 minutes with lid covered. Remove from heat and steep for another 10 minutes. Let it cool. After it cools, strain it and store it in a bottle.

2. Is It Safe to Use These Products During Pregnancy or Lactations Also?

Any information regarding the safety of usage of Witch hazel extract or other products during pregnancy is not documented. Therefore, more research would be required to make any formal statement regarding the same.

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