14 little known mozzie and sandfly remedies

by Seamus Campbell on March 11, 2011 · 49 comments

In our quest for relief from this travellers blight we have made a few discoveries…

Firstly, we use and sell, Mosi-guard which is a natural insect repellent that has been scientifically proven to be more effective than the potent chemical repellants available, and yet it is all natural and safe — even for small children. Mosiguard works against MosquitoesSandflies or Midges, Ticks and Leeches Please find more information on the MosiGuard developers website.

You can buy Mosiguard here

Now to our other discoveries:

little known mosquito sandfly remedies

little known mosquito sandfly remedies

1. #~ Windex

Sitting at the drag races in the small town of Tom Price, in the Pilbara, we were being eaten alive by ferocious mozzies.

A neighbour told us about Windex, at the time we were keeping Windex in the vehicle all the time for when the red dust turned to mud on the windscreen, so we were rapt to find out that it was an excellent way to neutralise the toxin from those insect bites (including March flies).

The march flies were particularly vicious, and if you reacted (as I did) you could get a wildly itchy patch some 8cm across.

I had never heard of or experienced that before, where I come from march flies leave a bite not much worse than a mozzie.

So we were covered in bites, applied the Windex liberally, the toxin was gone, no worries – hardly any bites the next day.

2. #~ Deodorant

This is great in an emergency. I discovered deodorant on a trip to Sumatra, Indonesia. It seems to have some power to neutralise the bites, but mainly it stops the itch by sealing the bite from exposure to the air

3. #Vinegar

Aah the wonders of vinegar – not only is it a powerful mould killer, cleaner, neutraliser of jelly fish poison and fabric softener but vinegar is an excellent neutraliser of biting insect toxins. It is great for mozzies, sandflies, March flies- the March fly bites will sting for a second as they actually give you a little cut, but it is worth it if you react badly (my bites last for days).

4. #Wine

Yes, good old wine. On my first night in Kuranda near Cairns, on the way to a house sit I was staying at a nice Bali style resort. Sitting at the poolside restaurant I was spiked by a hairy caterpillar; it was tiny, just about 15mm long I flicked it away but immediately came up in big red, extremely itchy welts where ever it had landed on me. I asked the waiter if they had anything to put on it or knew what to do. His eyes went wide and he hurried off to see what he could find, never to return. My instinct was to grab for the vinegar but since I didn’t think they would appreciate me breaking into the kitchen I just dipped my finger into the wine, and spread it over the welts. It worked a treat! The marks were gone the next day. Later I heard from the locals that these hairy caterpillars left little spikes in you that itched for weeks, so I counted myself very lucky that I had neutralised the toxin before it got a chance to take hold.

5. *Clothing

This shouldn’t be little known – not much is going to bite through clothing, though they will go under and around. Your average weight material will protect you from mozzies, but even thin material will protect you from sandflies and less vicious mozzies while having the added bonus of reducing sunburn. I like that light indian cotton such as the kurta shirt for coolness and some protection, particularly at dawn and dusk. I am no scientist but I don’t get why you would need to impregnate cloth with insect repellent when the cloth forms a physical barrier anyway, and I notice that the fine print says that you still need to use repellent on exposed bits! If it is hot you want to use insect repellent so that you can expose bits and cool off! On that vein I don’t get SPF clothing, unless your shirt is as thin as these kurta’s it will shield you from the sun anyway! Aka Slip Slop Slap!

6. *Wind – Fan

I don’t find it enough by itself but those less allergic than me are convinced that the fan over the bed is enough to keep the sandflies at bay.

7. *Baby Oil

When I arrived in the tropics the locals advised us to use baby oil, since we would be living in the open air – our houses don’t have glass on the windows, or even fly screens, this is because you need to let as much air flow through as possible, to cool you down and to stop everything from going mouldy in the went season. This does stop the sandflies by creating a physical barrier that they can’t bite through, though it only lasts an hour or so as it soaks in or is diluted by sweat, I also found that it was hard not to wipe it off, especially if I already had bites that cried out to be scratched, adding lavender or tea tree oil helped, as a repellent and to sooth the existing bites. Though I did feel pretty yuk covered in oil.

8. *Avon Skin-so-soft

If you do a search on the web for sandfly or midge repellents you will come up with Avon Skin-so-soft, I haven’t tried it but have read many glowing reviews, stories of use by UK Special Forces. It seems it works on the same principle as baby oil, providing an oily coating to the skin that the sandfly or midge urine does not penetrate. I also read scientific studies that showed that it was less effective than most other products, and a comment on an expat forum commenting that the midges over here were a completely different entity to those that our British counterparts were dealing with.

9. #~Calamine

Well, when I was a kid it was not ‘little known’ it was ‘the thing to use’ everybody had Calamine in the cupboard. It is still amazingly effective stuff, even if a bit embarrassing to go out in public showing off white/pink blobs that yell – Hey! I am new in town! Still if I am staying in, I love the stuff, dab it on thickly to form a seal, this is what gave me the idea for the deodorant in Sumatra. I don’t think it neutralises the toxin as well as some of the others though.

10. *#~Tea tree oil

Great for neutralising the toxin, soothing the bites, and gives some protection as a repellent. The thing about sandflies is that you have to have repellent on every inch, they are not deterred by just the smell of it as mozzies are. It is great for mould as well. Locals at Kuranda, the mould capital, say that bleach doesn’t kill off the spores but Tea Tree, Vinegar and Clove oil do, they are kinder to fabric too.

11. *#~Lavender

We had a gig house-sitting a lavender farm in Queensland with a horse and 2 chooks. They put us onto lavender oil for bites. We didn’t have to worry about sandflies but lavender oil is great for neutralising and soothing mozzie bites. Here in the tropics I did try it with the baby oil and found it gave it a boost as a repellent and soothed my bites as well. Lavender is a hardy plant that you can grow around your home to keep the blighters at bay.

12. #Take a shower

This works for sandflies, as the toxin is in the urine they leave on your skin you can wash it off. I find if I feel some bites before I have put repellent on, if I have a shower as soon as I can it reduces the number and severity of the bites.

Since arriving in the tropics and trying so many different products, including the mainstream insecticides we have found what we were looking for!

13. #~Rainforest rejuvenation

If you have been bitten, this product is amazing at neutralising the toxin and relieving the itch – it is a combination of natural rainforest oils and sea salt made in Kuranda, near Cairns Qld.

14. *#~Mosi-guard – Lemon Eucalyptus

Now this is the most amazing product; when I lived the easy life in southern NSW and Canberra natural insect repellants were my preferred option, they worked fine for me. But once I left the safety of civilised society and took off to explore wild and wonderful horizons, the insects just got desperately persistent they were not to be deterred! At one of our first stops the insects were so persistent that even with commercial tropical strength repellant dabbed on my face and surface spray on my hat they hovered just inches away waiting for any chance.

We found Mosi Guard on the net, we had trouble finding a retailer, we did find one that had a couple they had forgotten about and bought a couple to try, we were amazed. It was everything the manufacturers website said it was. It was at least as effective than the DEET products at repelling the biting insects, but at the same time it soothed the bites and neutralised the toxins! So unlike the mainstream insect repellents you don’t rub it off scratching at your bites, even if you do rub or scratch or sweat it doesn’t just sit on the surface of your skin so it isn’t such a drama, and it is so nice to use on your skin, it smells lovely and fresh – of lemon eucalyptus, not chemicals and perfumes. So we bought a box of 12.

Our neighbours came to call, they have lived in this area for years, we gave them some Mosi Guard to try and were amazed as well, they came back the next day to buy some off us.

The same story with another set of neighbours.

So we decided to start selling it ourselves, we had been looking for products to sell online that are useful to people travelling in remote places as we do.

Insect bite remedies work in 3 different ways,

* They stop the insect biting – apply before you are likely to be bitten

# They neutralise the toxin – apply immediately you have been bitten

~ They relieve the itch – apply after the bites have developed

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Cairns One Day June 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Nice information, thanks

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Peter Barnes August 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Scrub all affected areas with water as hot as you can stand with lots of soap on a sponge. One with the scotch brite on one side is best. Do it as soon as possible after noticing the bites for best effect. Easy, cheap, effective and almost always available.

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dani December 2, 2012 at 11:44 am

Try dettol. It helps aswell but apply every hour. Can be diluted

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seamus December 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Thanks – good to know.

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Bev December 16, 2012 at 3:42 am

Dettol is highly toxic. Do not put anything on your skin that would kill you or make you sick if you ate it! Skin absorbs toxins just as if you had eaten it, not in the same quantity, but the same manner.

If you are using eucalyptus oil, just buy some at a pharmacy or outlet that sells essential oils and put it in some body lotion, you can get lemon oil too and mix your own product.

If you use a lotion that has paraben or petroleum bases in it, it will sit on the surface of the skin because the petroleum creates a barrier that will not let an essential oil (actually not “oils” even though called that) penetrate the skin.

If you want to receive the benefits of healing properties of essential oils, buy a lotion that has natural ingredients with no parabens or petroleum products in it.

Lavender, lemon and eucalyptus have great benefits to the body in general when absorbed through the skin. Read up on aromatherapy…it it about healing thru absorbtion, not just smell as the name would seem to suggest.

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Jaja January 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm

I was bitten by march flys a week ago and although the bites have reduced, I am left purple scars everywhere. I have a dozen new bites and I was wondering, does any one know what you can regarding the scars that are left behind?

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Nicole March 15, 2013 at 7:27 am

Hi Jaja

Put on Rosehip oil. It is amazing. I put Rosehip oil after I have a shower. Keep applying, you will notice the difference.

Nicole

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seamus March 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks for that Nicole – I just looked it up and apparently it’s good for eczema too (both my daughter and I suffer from that). I’ll buy some and see what it’s like for mossie and sandfly bites. Any recommendations for brands to buy?

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Gail April 25, 2014 at 8:39 am

Nicole, just some helpful info. A lack of essential fatty acids in your.diet may cause eczema. Just some suggestions you might think about. Avocados, flaxseed oil, flaxseed meal, coconut oil, avocado oil, omega 3 and extra virgin olive oil. Look it up.. Use internal and topical. You will be surprised.

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Coletie February 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I have 40 sandfly bites at the moment. I was swimming and showering and applying deterrant. Water did not work. Calamine and wine nor vinegar. You must put antiseptic on these bites as they can turn nasty. Tiger balm also did not work. The avon skin so softly is not useful anymore may e they changed the formula.
Spray plastic has helped stopping the bites grom festering and weeping.
Even anti histamine tableys are not working against tbe itching.
Also I live in the tropics and find that mosquitos do sting through clothing especially around the thighs when I am sitting.

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Gail April 25, 2014 at 8:45 am

Coletie, have you tried meat tenderizer and water in a spray bottle . Spray on bites and let dry.

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seamus February 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

Although we use Mosiguard - which is excellent, sometimes we still get bitten. I use Lucas Papaw Ointment when I do get bitten and the sores are open. If the sores are closed ie skin not broken I use Rainforest Rejuvenation, but this has salt in it so stings on open cuts.
We find that anti-histamines do help but they take a few days to work.
Rub or spray a repellent on your clothes – that sometimes helps.
Unfortunately sometimes the mossies are just going to beat you, whatever you do!

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Jan April 22, 2013 at 10:49 pm

We have found vinegar does stop the itch from sandflies but you do have to wet the bite area thoroughly and not just dab with cottonwool. You also need to reapply now and then. We will be going to live in a sandfly area so are doing loads of research as we itch for days and would prefer to not use antihistamines if we can.

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Gail April 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

Jan, when I had the shingles, I was desperate to find something to stop the burning stinging itching and welts over left side of my body , from my head to my waist. I ended up using Bragg organic apple cider vinegar and cotton balls. My husband soaked the cotton balls in the BACV and taped them on all my blisters for four days after my morning shower and my evening shower . Gone in five days. I,very talked with people who still have shingles for years. This may work for your bites.

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John Wiltshire April 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

I have found that extremely hot water on the patch of midge bites ( or sandflies) is very effective. You need to run the water at an almost unbearable temperature for a few minutes. It not only washes the toxins away but kills any toxins that have already entered the skin.

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Cynthia June 14, 2014 at 8:01 am

I have found the hottest water the best thing to stop the itching.
I also use a cheap moisturiser (1/2 ltr bottle) to which I add 1/2 bottle of citronella oil & mix thoroughly. Rub on to avoid bites!

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Peter Barnes August 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

John, you are so correct and the most helpful comment so far.
However I must add that I find a good lather of soap along with the hot water adds to the effectiveness. I use one of those sponges that have the scotch brite glued to one side. It is a bit aggressive, especially if new, but helps enormously as well. As you say you have to remove the toxins as well as possible, and hot water, soap and a sponge is the most effective method I’ve found. I’ve lived in a heavily sandfly infested area for 68 years and have been bitten so many times.
There is a lot of info on the net re how to avoid sandflies but not much good info re what to do after.
I spend a lot of time fishing around rivers in my trailer sailer and often get bitten. It’s such a relief to get back to the boat, boil the kettle and wash them off as above. Oh the relief, and so easy and cheap.

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Fling Flong May 5, 2013 at 8:09 am

When I worked in Africa I gave up taking antimalarials and did what the South African ex military guys did – just don’t get bitten! They made their own repellant using a tub of barrier cream, and mixed in a small amount of citronella oil.

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Greg August 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Thanks….Windex!

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kiat September 2, 2013 at 9:28 am

The hot water works for me. Thank you, John Wiltshire!

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Charmaine Scott October 9, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Agree !!!!!!

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Charmaine Scott October 9, 2013 at 11:10 pm

That’s meant to be agree to windex, almost instant, bit worried about the toxins, but hey,crazy itch is gone !

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don September 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

no they don’t work i think you work from the office

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Stacey September 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Been in Brisbane for 4 months, went fishing 2 days ago, and I am not joking I have about 200 sandfly bites. I went to hospital this morning as I am in excruciating itchy agony! They gave me a cortisone injection, advantan ointment, and anti-histamine. I have also got Calamine. I am still really really itchy. The bites are weeping and blistering. Is there anything I can put on them once they are in blister/weeping stage? To reduce the itch? I think repellent is a bit too late :(
Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I am suffering immensely. I don’t want to irritate the open bites any more but I really need this itching to stop

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Erasmus October 6, 2013 at 12:03 am

Dear Stacey guess its too late now, but the hot shower works. But might depend on your skin, i can bear really really hot as my skin is thick, had 50 bites, the itching was gone after two times hot shower as hot as you can do. It s the best advice out there. Initially it gives extra pain with the hot water but it still feels good right away. It also makes sense as the injected protein might get deactivated.
It cant be used if you have sunburn on top of it though, as the hot water would be extremely painful and probably damage the skin further. Maybe the hot spoon …

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Nicole November 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

A bit late now but there’s product out there called Itch-eze plus cream. Works wonders on mozzie bites and it’s not to bad on sandfly bites, only available in Queensland.

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Seamus Campbell November 6, 2013 at 8:23 am

Yes – that is a great product – I use it if I do get bitten and the itch is unbearable – the manufacturer does say to use it sparingly, and it is available on-line here http://www.itchezeplus.com.au/

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Sammy December 27, 2013 at 2:30 am

I arrived in the Top End/Gulf/Kimberley region as a fresh faced Girl in 1996. I got absolutely hammered by sand flies and ended up in hospital, same deal-cortisone, antihestimines, creams etc. my body is used to it now after 18yrs up here but I still spray, cover up and avoid especially at low tides and full moons!! Ps pee on them, it does work!!

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Desiree January 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Having experienced the most horrendous reaction to sandfly bites in Northern Western Australia, I tried everything that anyone suggested. At last after months of agony and scarring, someone suggested onion juice. By this time, I didn’t care what I smelled like, so I cut an onion and rubbed on the juice. Instant and permanent relief! Still going to give those mangrove areas a big miss though.

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Mareejones September 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

Hi Stacey, Friend just told me about putting a hot spoon ,hot as u can bear it without getting third degree burns

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Eileen October 15, 2013 at 12:08 am

In reply ro Seamus…Midges/sandflies must take a blood meal for their eggs to mature. They do not, as is sometimes believed, urinate
on people to cause discomfort. In the process of biting and sucking blood, they inject a salivary
secretion that produces a skin reaction of varying intensity, depending on an individual’s reaction.

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Eileen October 15, 2013 at 12:19 am

http://www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/3713/BitingMidge.pdf
BITING MIDGES OR “SANDFLIES” IN THE NT
PETER WHELAN
SENIOR MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGIST
DARWIN
NORTHERN TERRITORY
AUSTRALIA
July 2003
The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin Vol 10, No. 3, September 2003

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Seamus Campbell November 6, 2013 at 8:26 am

Thanks Eileen – interesting information.

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PAM November 30, 2013 at 10:37 am

I have about 200 ‘sandfly’ bites on me as well from just several days ago. Enjoyed 3 beautiful days at Mission Point – Bribie Island, but haven’t enjoyed the ‘itching’ afterwards. Didn’t even know we were getting bitten. Looks as though I have chicken pox. I’ve been having the hot showers which works and a friend put me onto ‘Pinetarsol’. You get it in a Chemist – it’s a yellow liquid that you rub onto the affected areas (mine’s all over my body) during showering. Turn shower off and rub it all over, leave for a few minutes, then shower it off and pat yourself dry. You can use it in a bath as well. Vinegar works a treat also. ‘Stop Itch Plus’ has given me some relief also – put cream on individual itchy areas, good when your out and about. as it’s easy to apply. Good luck from a fellow ‘sandfly sufferer’.

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Terry April 19, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Hi Pam,
I only have about 100 bites on me varying in sizes and heads. I was BBQing up Port Mac, enjoying the sunset and it wasn’t until I was in bed the scratching started, I even have them on my forehead. I scratched all the way back to Sydney then smeared Pinetarsol over the bites and felt immediate relief!
Be warned though all users there is a price to pay for the relief, you WILL smell like an old ashtray.

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marissa December 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm

I have been living in tropical north QLD for over 6 weeks and everytime I try to enjoy fishing with my partner I get attacked by midgees. With or without repellent ie bushmans bla bla. I have tried everything to help relieve them afterwards, only thing that works is 2 antihistamines a day. I think your only supposed to have one, but it only lasts half the day!
It’s either no fishing in the lakes or buy myself a bee sting suit

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Seamus Campbell December 5, 2013 at 5:18 am

HI Marissa,
Once you get bitten it can be horrible, but I’d really recommend Itch-eze plus cream which you can get in some chemists, and on-line http://www.itchezeplus.com.au/.
Also our product Mosiguard does work amazingly well. We live in an open house at the top of Cape York, right next door to a mangrove swamp.
We use Mosiguard twice a day and it definitely does keep the sandflies away.

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Mel Ryan March 16, 2014 at 10:41 am

THANKYOU all for your experience and advice .Glad to know (now) around full moon is worse for sandflies . Just been very badly bitten especially under arms and bum where I must have missed spraying. The bites have spread out to join in some areas. This is the most terrible itch I have ever had ! A cream by ‘ Natralia nourish Naturals’ for eczema & psoriasis, is soothing but I will try the hot showers as well. The full bee keepers suit sounds like a good idea, sadly !

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Seamus Campbell March 16, 2014 at 10:53 am

Hi Mel, if you’ve been bitten heaps it’s worth taking some anti-histamines for a week or so. They usually stop the bites sort of spreading out and the itching. The anti-histamines usually will work in a couple of days.

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Mel Ryan March 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

Thanks Seamus, now 3rd day of taking ‘FexoTabs’,1 per day – supposed to be fast acting but just slight relief really. Is there a better one (non drowsy) ? I don’t like taking anti -histamines much, but anything to get rid of this reaction, & get back to work.

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Erica Lovelock August 26, 2014 at 9:13 am

Have suffered greatly since living in Cairns. Eventually taking Fexo tabs too as non drowsy . I also take Polaramine at night as side effect of drowsiness gives me a good sleep without ripping my skin off. Also wrap flexible gel ice pack over area bliss.

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Steven Nagy March 21, 2014 at 5:22 pm

If you are already suffering from bites, the best remedy to reduce pain I found is to apply either cold (eg, a piece of ice in a plastic bag) – hot water as hot as you can endure and I found the most effective itch “ease” is hot air from a hair dryer. As hot as possible…
The heat neutralizes the nerve endings in the affected area, but also speeds up the dispersal of the histamins, that are trying to fight off the proteins left there by the attacking insect.

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stephannie April 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

I visited Gunn Point Beach in The Northern Territory, I took precautions using a natural spray for my body but the Midgees attacked my head! Through my hair I now have this incredible itching going on now for over two weeks. I didn’t think for a minute that they could penetrate a thick hear of hair. Be warned, they do!!!

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Gail April 25, 2014 at 9:23 am

Just an idea. What about oral-gel on a q-tip and apply to bite

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scott May 18, 2014 at 11:31 am

Hi guys, I have found that it’s back to basics for this one, I use a fresh quarter of lemon juice in my water which is very good for you, then wipe that same quarter of lemon over the bites allow to dry on the skin, and apply as necessary.
Now get back to enjoying yourself.
Scott

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Alisha July 1, 2014 at 7:46 am

Please help[… I went and enjoyed a afternoon on the beach with my family came home and 5 days later i found i had about 15 bites on my butt i was told they are sund fly bites…. they hurt, itch and swollen to the point i can barely sit… please help i cant stand it any longer.. i have tried cortizone lotion, perozide, vinegar, and its been 2 weeks,, i cant do it any longer!!!

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