Though there are a variety of ointments available for treating minor wounds, many of them are made of synthetic compounds that can irritate the skin or provoke allergic reactions in people with chemical sensitivities. Fortunately, there are simple natural remedies that often prove themselves effective against painful stings, cuts, bruises and infections without producing side effects.
St. John’s Wort, a herb widely used as a natural alternative for combating depression, can be made into medicinal oil that works well for various skin conditions. Soaking its crushed flowers in olive oil for several weeks in the sun – until the oil turns a reddish color – produces a natural ointment that can either be ingested or else applied directly on the skin to treat cuts and bruises and relieve inflammation.
Chamomile flowers can help promote the healing of minor wounds; they also work as a natural antiseptic. Make a compress by steeping 2 tablespoons of Chamomile in 1½ cups of hot water for 15 minutes and then straining out the flowers. Soak a cloth in the water (once it’s lukewarm) and apply it to affected skin a few times throughout the day.
Soaking in English Oak (sometimes referred to as Tanner’s Bark) is another good remedy for skin inflammation. This herb is available either finely cut or as a coarse powder. A quart of boiling water poured over 2 teaspoons of English Oak will create a soothing bath additive.
Arnica has antiseptic and pain-killing properties, but it should always be applied externally. This herb is available whole, cut, crushed, and powdered, and can be applied to bruises and sprains. Because its potency can vary in different commercially available forms, always follow the suggested dosage written on the package or bulk container that it comes from.
Another proven remedy for skin irritations comes in the form of a time-honored breakfast cereal: oatmeal. Oats can soothe skin inflammation and have even been used to treat warts. In addition, oat straw can be boiled in water (about 3½ ounces of chopped straw to 3 quarts water) for twenty minutes to make a bath additive that helps relieve itching.
Natural skin applications often require more time and forethought to prepare, but they are generally less expensive than commercial balms and healthier, as a rule, because they’re made of substances that the body is more accustomed to than synthetics.