Summer involves lots of activity and lots of activity will inevitably lead to a few bumps and bruises, scrapes and the occasional run it with a natural pest (mosquito, poison ivy). Being prepared to prevent when possible and treat easily and naturally reduces stress and makes life easier.
Please Note: This is not to be taken as medical advice. I am sharing what we do for our family. Hopefully, this will prompt you to make a plan for your family for various possible needs. Doing your research, planning and preparing now will make your summer run more smoothly and be more fun!
Here are a few things I keep on hand year-round to keep us healthy and deal with minor illness and injury:
Healthy food and healthy movement makes for a healthy body. Even while on “vacation” choose to keep the sugar and refined carbohydrates low and to eat lots of fruit and veggies. Even when we eat like this, our bodies can still benefit from some basic supplements. We take a homemade herbal multivitamin year-round and try to eat lots of probiotic rich foods (like kefir, yogurt, kombucha and fermented veggies). There are many good multi-vitamins you can buy (or make). Do your research and choose the best one for your family.
I keep homeopathic Arnica Montana on hand for all sorts of major and minor trauma. It is great for bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes as well as for sore muscles and headaches.
I keep a few rice packs in the freezer at all times. These can be as easy as a sock filled with uncooked rice, tied off and put into the freezer or you can also find nicely sewn squares at craft sales and online. This is my favorite form of “ice pack” it easily molds to various body parts and has no hard edges to add to the hurt, but it is also cold enough to get the job done but not so cold that you have to worry about freezing skin and then don’t melt into a puddle and cause a mess! These are magic with kids, so easy and reusable!
I keep bandages on hand in a couple of sizes and shapes, but the basic size works well for most things. I like to keep the plain flesh colored ones for adults as well as “fun” ones for the kids. (I buy my fun bandages from the dollar store, only $1/box!) My kids would use these fun bandages for all sorts of non-necessary boo-boos so we have made the rule that blood has to be present in order to need a bandage!
Instead of an antibiotic cream on cuts and scrapes, I use extra virgin coconut oil. It keeps the wound moist, which promotes healing, and extra virgin coconut oil is naturally anti-bacteria and anti-fungal.
For cuts and scrapes that are larger than a regular bandage can handle, I use non-stick gauze pads and vet wrap. A non-stick gauze pad covered in coconut oil will protect the wound and provide a barrier to infection, securing the gauze pad is easier, sturdier and more comfortable with vet wrap than with tape. Vet wrap can be found at most farm supply stores in a large variety of bright colors (or ordered here). It is the same stuff that can be found at most drug stores in a flesh colored hue but at about two to three times less in price! Vet wrap sticks to itself but not to skin and while wrapping it around the injury may look a bit beyond necessary, it holds the gauze pad securely in place (even while swimming). I was a summer camp nurse and used vet wrap all the time! It kept even minor scrapes and cuts free of dirt and sand while playing rough and tumble games and while swimming. Remember to change the bandage after wet or dirty activities. 3M NextCare waterproof bandages are truly waterproof and very sturdy when correctly applied to clean, dry skin (to correctly apply them so that they are waterproof and last can take a bit of practice…). They are a bit expensive (as far as bandages go) but depending on the situation are very worth the price!
Aloe Vera Gel with added lavender essential oil is my favorite skin soother! It is great for dry skin, sun burn and rashes of various kinds. Use a 100% pure aloe vera gel and a high quality essential oil. (Plant Therapy is my preferred essential oil brand but there are many other high quality options.) I also like to keep diluted lavender essential oil handy in a roll-on bottle. It works good to roll onto any little bump, bruise or rash. My youngest even likes to use it for mosquito bites! It is extremely safe and kids can put it on themselves which they like!).
Sniffle Stopper essential oil blend (from Plant Therapy’s KidSafe line) is great for helping kids to breath easier and sleep well when dealing with summer colds or allergies. I just put a couple of drops on a rag and set the rag on their night stand. You can also use an essential oil diffuser or apply it to the chest or back when properly diluted.
Where we live in Minnesota, some form of bug repellent is almost a necessity at certain times of day and in certain locations. The mosquitoes can make being outdoors almost unbearable during parts of the summer and in the evenings. I prefer the most natural option possible and have had good results with a lemon eucalyptus repellent (Repel Brand or Cutter Brand can be found at most stores). There are also small companies that make truly natural insect repellent (MadeOn and Earthley are a couple that I may try this summer). If you make your own with essential oils, place your essential oils in a carrier oil (like almond or coconut oil)or turn it into a lotion bar with shea butter and bee’s wax and then apply. This will keep it from evaporating quickly and “wearing off” like the essential oils do in a base of witch hazel.
Ticks and Lyme Disease is always a concern since we live in a Lyme-indemic area. I’ve done a whole post how we have treated Lyme Disease in the past and what we are doing to prevent future infections.
Living “up north” and spending more than six months of the year without adequate sunlight on our skin to make vitamin D, I avoid using sun block whenever possible. Eating a diet full of healthy fats will make your skin naturally more resistant to sun burn. However, if I know that we will be in full sun for over and hour during peek times (10am-2pm) I choose to use a natural sun block on the areas that are the most likely to burn (face and ears, shoulders and upper chest and back). I’ve used and liked the sunblock from Tropical Sands for many summers. Katie from Kitchen Stewardship has an awesome and very comprehensive safe sunscreen guide.
I keep Bentonite clay on hand year-round and use it daily in my tooth powder and face powder but it is absolutely amazing in dealing with summer pest bites and stings. It stops mosquito and fly bites from itching and bee or wasp stings from hurting within a matter of minutes. You can make a paste simply be adding water to the dry powder until it reaches your desired consistency or you can buy a pre-made paste which is easy to use and carry with you.
Another thing we always keep on hand (but hope we don’t have to use) is homeopathic poison ivy/oak tablets. Avoiding exposure to poison ivy is the best, but sometimes it happens. Using these tablets as directed (a few times a day) for a couple days completely dries up the rash and greatly reduces the itching!
What are your favorite natural remedies for summer?