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Hiking out in nature is pretty much one of my favorite activities in the world. I love a good adventure outdoors, but sometimes that means coming back far itchier than you left. Whether you know what to look for and avoid (with poison ivy, oak, and sumac) or not, anyone can end up with a rash before their hike is over!
Calamine lotion, the anti-itch remedy from the old days
I remember calamine lotion from my childhood when chickenpox overtook our house. I remember what a big deal it was because my mom had never actually gotten chickenpox as a kid and was trying to keep away from us, leaving my dad to be the one to care for us during our illness. While you can purchase calamine lotion at your local grocery store, if you already have all the ingredients on hand, which I do, you can easily whip up a batch in under 3 minutes flat! Preferring to make all of our medicine cabinet myself, for the sake of self-sufficiency and knowing the ingredients, I love to make our own anti-itch calamine lotion. In the olden days, they would use clays and herbs to stop the itch, today the remedy is not much different.
Ingredients to soothe the itch and heal the wound
If you look at the back of a calamine lotion bottle, you might notice a few differences between the old time remedies and the grocery store calamine lotion’s ingredients. Many of the store-bought brands contain ingredients we are trying to avoid in our house, including propylene glycol, fragrances, parabens, and more! You don’t need any of those ingredients to make a fantastic natural calamine lotion! These are just some of the ingredients that you can use in a homemade version, there are even a few more options that would be great to add to this recipe:
- Zinc Oxide – This stuff is magic in this recipe! While this recipe can be made without it in a pinch, I always add this to my recipe because it not only provides UV protection and skin healing properties, this stuff is a close relative of the active anti-itch ingredient in calamine lotion!
- Baking Soda – Baking soda is a fantastic addition to our anti-itch calamine lotion because it helps to neutralize many bug bites, stings, and even the poison of some plants!
- Clay – Clay is a key ingredient in our homemade calamine lotion because it helps to suck out all the toxins while also cleansing and healing the wound. Clay also helps to reduce the itch at the site of bug bites and rashes! It may seem strange to use not one, but two different clays in this recipe, but each clay has their own healing capabilities. Bentonite clay is extremely drawing and will help to draw out poisons and other toxins causing rashes and itchy bug bites. Pink kaolin clay, on the other hand, is less drawing than bentonite clay, but contains iron oxide (how it gets it’s pink/red color) which is very helpful in relieving the itch!
- Vegetable Glycerin – This wonderful stuff helps to put moisture in the skin, helps to cleanse and heal the wound site, and is a great ingredient to give this recipe a more lotion-like feel.
- Essential Oils – These, of course, lend their antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties to help soothe and heal any rash or bug bite.
- Witch Hazel – Witch hazel is some amazing stuff! Not only is it great to cleanse a wound, but it’s also fantastic at soothing the itch, reducing inflammation, and even gives this recipe a little bit of extra preservation.
Homemade Anti-Itch Calamine Lotion
While I do like to use both kinds to make this natural calamine lotion, you can sub more bentonite clay if you do not have the pink clay on hand!
- 2 Tbsp. baking soda
- 2 Tbsp. bentonite clay
- 1 Tbsp. pink kaolin clay (aka rose clay or red kaolin clay you can alternately use white kaolin or more bentonite clay!)
- 2 Tbsp. non-nano zinc oxide (While this is a favorite addition to this recipe, it can be left out if you don’t have any on hand! I keep it on hand to make my homemade sunscreen!)
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable glycerin
- enough filtered water or witch hazel to form a paste
- 15 drops MRH lavender essential oil or PT lavender eo
- 5 drops MRH tea tree essential oil or PT tea tree eo
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add the vegetable glycerin.
- Slowly add in the water (or witch hazel or hydrosol etc.) and stir until a smooth and creamy paste forms. add in the essential oils if using.
- Apply to itchy bug bites, chicken pox, rashes, and more! If you use distilled water, witch hazel, or hydrosol this may last a couple weeks in the fridge.
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