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Home remedies for common health ailments

As a SheKnows expert, Anna is lucky enough to test cutting-edge fitness innovations, learn about the latest runway trends and play around with all those kooky beauty products (a rubber face mask?) that may soon earn its keep in a bathroo...

How to cure itchy bug bites and more!

Summer is more than itchy bug bites, makeup meltdowns and heat rash. You can play it cool despite the rising temperatures with items that are likely in your pantry right now.
Woman with itchy bug bite on face

Instead of rushing to your medicine cabinet the next time you get a bug bite or sunburn, try one of our home remedies to cure these common health ailments.

1

Banana peel relieves itchy bug bites

banana

An old Chinese remedy for bug bites involves rubbing the wound with the inside of a banana peel. It's been shown to reduce inflammation and irritation.

First treat the area with hand sanitizer or wash with soap and water. Then hold the inside of the banana peel on the bite for five minutes. Rub occasionally and do not rinse. Leave a bit of residue on to allow it to dry out the skin and keep the itch at bay.

How to treat spider bites >>

2

Vinegar soothes sunburns

vinegar

Vinegar contains acetic acid, one of the components of medications such as aspirin, and it's been shown to help ease sunburn pain, itching and inflammation. Vinegar helps balance the pH of sunburned skin, promoting healing. Dermatologists even recommend it following laser procedures. Its antiseptic properties help kill germs, too, which is certainly helpful in the case of blisters and peeling.

Just soak a few sheets of paper towels or a thin washcloth in white or apple cider vinegar, then apply them to the sunburned areas. Leave them on until the towels are dry. Repeat as needed.

You can also fill a spray bottle with white or apple cider vinegar and lightly mist the sunburned areas of your body. Spray the sunburn every few hours or whenever the pain returns.

More on healing sunburned skin >>

3

Aloe vera makes makeup last longer

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel not only has anti-microbial properties, making it ideal to treat acne and pimples, it also reduces oily sebum, which is heaven-sent for those with runaway makeup during the summer.

Use it as an under-makeup primer — it moisturizes and has a tightening effect as it dries. Opt for a clear version that's 100 percent pure, or as close as you can get. Warning: The green gels may leave a green-tinted residue on your face.

And don't forget to still apply sunscreen!

4

Papaya smooths cracked heels

papaya

Papaya contains enzymes that digest proteins, making it helpful in treating cracked heels and soles. Just mash a papaya into a mask and spread it onto cracked heels for 15 minutes. Then rinse with lukewarm water. Apply twice a week.

5

Hydrogen peroxide whitens yellow nails

Hydrogen peroxide

Whether because you fancy fuchsia nail polish or you just haven't paid attention to them, your nails can take on a yellowish cast during the summer. You can "bleach" them back to their pearly luster with just two simple ingredients: hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

First, dip your fingers in warm water for 10 minutes. Dry them thoroughly. Mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and three tablespoons of baking soda to create a paste. With the help of a cotton swab, press the mixture around and underneath your nails. Leave it on for two to four minutes and wash with warm water. You can repeat up to twice weekly.

6

Olives prevent motion sickness

olive

Looking for something to cure motion sickness this summer on your family road trip? If you can prevent your body from producing excess saliva you can avert motion sickness altogether. (That's what happens as your body prepares to vomit: It produces saliva to protect your teeth from stomach acid.) Olives contain tannins, which, when released in your mouth, naturally reduce saliva.

It's only effective during the early stages of nausea, though, so be sure pop two or three of the green or black variety early on!

7

Baking soda cures smelly underarms

baking soda

Deodorant not cutting it during the summer months? Antiperspirant ingredient list making you sweat? Good news! Plain old baking soda will not only evaporate sweat, but it also kills bacteria that is the root of BO.

The science: Baking soda is alkaline and your body’s sweat is acidic; when the two combine, gas is formed, causing the instant evaporation of the sweat. So technically it’s not that baking soda blocks the sweat from escaping through your pores. Instead, it conditions your skin to quickly dry up as soon as the sweating begins.

8

Green tea calms swollen skin from hives

green tea bag

Hives are a common reaction to many different allergens, including insect bites, pollen or food, and they often pop up when you're stressed, exposed to extreme cold or sun, or sweating profusely. Summer heat has been shown to worsen the problem.

This is where your favorite afternoon pick-me-up can come to the rescue, in more ways than one! Caffeinated teas help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling. Opt for the green or black variety, which contain tannins, a natural astringent that constricts blood vessels and pulls the skin taut.

Steep a few bags of your choice of green tea in hot water for three to five minutes. During the summer, place the cooked tea bags in the refrigerator and apply to hives when needed for five to 15 minutes to soothe your boo-boos.

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