We're about to roll into Labor Day weekend.
And for many of us, that means outdoor gatherings with family and friends.
But time outside comes with some risks.
Namely, bug bites, stings, scrapes and splinters.
Since the pandemic began, I've noticed some first aid supplies in short supply.
Maybe you have, too.
Not to worry.
You can be prepared for these outdoor misadventures with some common household items.
Here are some of my favorite homemade first-aid secrets.
For bug bites – cucumbers & tea tree oil.
Cucumbers can help reduce puffiness and swelling.
If you've been bitten by a bug and the area looks a little swollen, try applying a cool cucumber slice to the spot.
And, to ease the itching, dab the spot with tea tree oil.
This essential oil not only curbs the itching, but also helps to reduce swelling and pain.
For bee stings – baking soda & honey.
Bee venom is acidic so you need to neutralize the acid with something alkalinizing, like baking soda.
Once the stinger has been removed, mix two tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to make a paste and apply it to the area. This should help the pain subside.
Interestingly, wasp venom is more alkaline, so to neutralize a wasp sting, you want to apply something acidic, like vinegar, instead of baking soda.
To help ensure the stung area doesn't get infected, coat the area with honey.
Honey has natural antibacterial properties that can help keep the area clean.
And, of course, anyone who is allergic to bee stings or showing signs of an allergic reaction (trouble breathing, feeling faint or dizzy, hives, or a swollen tongue) should get the stinger out and seek medical attention right away.
For minor cuts and scrapes – honey & bandages.
With any wound you should first stop the bleeding and clean the area.
Once the area is clean, you want to help the area heal.
The old belief that you should let cuts and scrapes "breathe" and leave them uncovered is no longer considered the best treatment option.
Instead, keeping the area moist and covered has been shown to be a better way to help skin heal.
Coat the area with honey and cover it with a bandage.
Honey has been shown to speed wound healing, and due to its antibacterial properties, can help keep the area from becoming infected.
For splinters – baking soda or glue.
If you have a splinter that won't come out with the traditional needle and tweezers, try a mixture of baking soda and water.
Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Make sure the paste is not runny.
Apply the paste to the splinter area and cover it with a bandage. Leave the bandage on until the paste dries.
When you remove the bandage, the splinter will likely come out with it, or will be sticking out from the skin enough that you can grab it with a pair of tweezers.
If you don't have baking soda in the house, you can also try to remove the splinter with glue.
Spread a layer of glue over the splinter and let it dry.
The glue should bind to the wooden splinter so that when you remove the dried glue, the splinter should come out, as well.
Labor Day is typically summer's last hurrah.
If you plan to spend time outside, make sure you're prepared to deal with the unpleasant side-effects.
Give your pantry a quick check for baking soda and honey.
And, pick-up a cucumber or two at the market. Even if you don't use it for a bug bite, you can just cut it up and toss it into a salad.