With warmer weather here in many places around the country, and summer just around the corner, odds are, you’ll be spending at least some time in the Great Outdoors – whether it’s hiking, picnicking, camping or hanging out at the beach. After all, while the warmer months of the year tend to bring lots of fun, they can also leave you subject to some unwanted things too – like large anxiety-causing tourist crowds, sunburn, bug bites, and even foot fungus that can stem from wearing moist gardening shoes and plastic-style shoes like Crocs that trap moisture in.
The good news is that there are a number of multi-purpose oils that you can keep on hand to combat the downsides of spending time in the Great Outdoors this summer. With so many different uses, there’s no reason to spend an exorbitant amount of money buying an oil for every single issue you might encounter.
These are truly the must-have multi-purpose essential oils to have in your cabinet before venturing outside.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil offers analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antispasmodic properties. There’s a reason it’s one of the most, if not the most, popular essential oil out there. It can relieve the pain of a bee sting and the itch of a mosquito bite, heal cuts, scrapes, and burns, soothe sore muscles, combat fungal infections, repel insects and more.
Relieving muscle and backache pain. Many of us get a lot more active during the warmer months, whether it’s exercising more or going hiking in the mountains. Lavender essential oil is one of the best for relieving the pain that results from sore muscles, due to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. And, if you find that your back is aching after hauling all of that camping gear to and from your site, it’s great for relieving that pain too. In fact, a study out of Hong Kong Polytechnic University showed that a massage using lavender essential oil can reduce a person’s back pain by as much as 39 percent. Simply dilute in a carrier oil and massage it into the affected area.
Healing injuries faster. Scrapes, cuts, and burns are also more likely to happen when you’re spending time in the Great Outdoors, particularly when camping with all of that gathering wood, getting the campfire going and roasting marshmallows. That’s why it’s so important to have lavender essential oil along – all you have to do is dab some onto a skin wound and its potent antimicrobial properties will go to work to fight off infection as well as to speed healing. Scientific research has confirmed these abilities, such as one 2013 study which evaluated its antimicrobial abilities when combined with other essential oils like tea tree, cinnamon, and clove, The researchers discovered that a 1:1 ratio was the most effective for battling two common causes of bacterial and fungal infections, Staph aureus and Candida albicans, which are known lead to skin fungus and respiratory pneumonia.
Repel insects. Whether you’re enjoying a picnic or a walk through the woods, insects can be extremely annoying, and many can bite. Lavender essential oil can help with this too, as bugs, including mosquitoes, are offended by its scent. Simply apply a few drops onto any exposed areas of your skin when you go outdoors to prevent getting bitten. For sensitive skin, be sure to dilute in a carrier oil first.
Treat bug bites. In addition to repelling insects, lavender essential oil can treat bug bites, so if you forgot to put it on before going outside and get bit, you can use the oil to reduce irritation, pain, and swelling, as well as to stop any bleeding, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Relieve the stress and anxiety of battling crowds. Lavender essential oil is most well known for its relaxing, calming effects. If you feel anxious and/or stressed when in large crowds, such as festivals, concerts, and other popular summer events, be sure to bring some of this oil with you. Studies have found that lavender’s scent increases alpha waves in the part of the brain that’s responsible for relaxation. There has also been research involving the inhalation of the essential oil that have shown it can reduce both stress and anxiety.
You can use it to fight stress and anxiety by rubbing a few drops of the oil into your palms and then inhaling it, drawing the scent through your nose and up into the amygdala gland of the brain, sometimes called the “emotional warehouse,” to immediately calm your mind. You can also rub a couple of drops onto your wrist, temples or feet for similar effects.
Fight fungal infections. Fungal infections like athlete’s foot are especially common in the summer with so many sandal-wearers. The sun makes the skin dry out so it loses its natural protective oils. This combined with the constant trauma from sandals makes them more prone to infection. Then there are those shoes that trap moisture in, like gardening shoes and Croc-style plastic types of shoes, which are more often worn in the warmer months and increase the risk of an infection. Fortunately, versatile lavender essential oil can help, due to its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that typically occurs in between the toes of the foot, although it can occur in other locations on the body that provide the right breeding conditions, like the underarms and groin. It’s generally spread through damp locations. You can help prevent an infection by making a natural preventative spray using one cup of distilled water along with 5 drops each of lavender and myrrh essential oils. Place the mixture into a spray bottle and spray onto your feet after leaving the shower, gym, pool, or removing wet shoes.
If you end up with athlete’s foot, lavender oil can also help treat the infection by adding a few drops to your favorite lotion and rubbing it onto the affected areas. Be sure to do this at bedtime and then place socks over your feet and wear them overnight.
2. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil also offers a multitude of benefits, from fighting athlete’s foot to repelling and treating bug bites, healing wounds and more. It offers antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, cicatrisant, expectorant, fungicide and insecticide properties.
Treat a cut. If you have a cut, tea tree oil combined with lavender essential oil makes an ideal homemade ointment. Clean the wound thoroughly first, using water and hydrogen peroxide. Afterward, place a couple of drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil on the area and cover it up with a bandage to prevent infection.
Relieve razor burn. Odds are, if you’re going out in shorts or a bathing suit, you’ve just shaved your legs and razor burn is a common occurrence that can be uncomfortable, unsightly and even painful. Apply a small amount of tea tree oil diluted in a carrier oil just before going outside to relieve any irritation – it acts as a natural astringent and provides a soothing sensation.
Treat athlete’s foot. Tea tree oil is very effective for fighting fungal infections by inhibiting fungal growth. As the oil is very strong, you’ll want to combine it with a carrier oil like almond oil or olive oil. First, place a few drops of the carrier oil onto a cotton ball, and then add 2 drops of tea tree oil. Rub the oil-soaked cotton ball onto affected areas and then cover your feet with clean, cotton socks. Apply twice daily, changing to clean socks each time.
Repel insects. Tea tree oil can also be used to kill insects as it has antiparasitic properties which make it capable of destroying or suppressing the growth of parasites like fleas, leeches, lice, and ticks. Plus it can repel mosquitoes, ants, spiders and more. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a carrier oil like almond or jojoba oil and mix together. Apply to exposed areas of the skin to prevent bites
3. Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass offers antifungal, insecticidal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties that make it an outstanding essential oil to have on hand as it has so many uses. It can kill bacteria externally, relieve muscle pain, ward off insects and many other things that you might be subject to while in the Great Outdoors. It’s especially good for repelling fleas, flies, and mosquitoes.
Repelling insects. Apply a few drops of lemongrass oil to the edges of your clothing to repel insects like ticks, mosquitoes, flies and fleas.
Clean a wound. Combine a few drops of lemongrass oil with a quarter-cup witch hazel to clean out a wound.
Clean up your camping gear. All of that camping gear, particularly utensils, pots, and pans, can be hard to clean when you’re outdoors. Simply add a few drops of lemongrass oil to distilled water for more thorough, germ-free cleaning.
Fight fatigue. Worn out from that long hike and need more energy? Fight fatigue by mixing a few drops of lemongrass oil with a little coconut oil and massage it into your temples. Simply inhaling the scent can help boost energy too.