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Beurre de karité pour apaiser les piqûres d'insectes.

Use shea butter to soothe insect bites.

Shea butter is a natural ingredient that possesses several virtues for the skin. The properties it contains have earned it a prominent place in the world of cosmetology. It can even be used to soothe minor everyday ailments, particularly insect bites. Let's explore its mode of action together.

Published April 25, 2023, updated on January 31, 2024, by Manon, Scientific Editor — 4 min read

What can be the consequences of insect bites?

The bites from mosquitoes, wasps, fleas, hornets, ants, bees, or spiders are mostly harmless. However, in some individuals, they can present serious complications due to various factors.

Hymenoptera are stinging insects. They are divided into three subgroups:

  • the Apidae which includes bees or bumblebees;

  • the Vespidae which includes wasps or hornets;

  • the formicidae which include the non-winged red ants.

Insects from the Apidae group only sting when they feel threatened or agitated. At the moment of the sting, the stinger detaches from the rest of their body to implant itself into the victim's skin and inject venom. This venom generates local toxic reactions or allergic reactions, depending on the venom dose and the victim's sensitivity.

In the case of vespids, the stinger remains attached to the rest of the body and can sting multiple times. The venom it injects contains phospholipase, hyaluronidases, and antigen 5 protein, which are quite allergenic. In the case of formicids, the ant bites to latch onto its victim and stings multiple times by sketching an arc with its body. The sting results in a central bite surrounded by an erythematous sting area. Venom containing formic acid is also introduced into the victim, which triggers allergic reactions.

Thus, the effects of stings from apids or vespids on the skin can vary. Sensations of burning, pain, itching, redness, and hardening may occur. Allergic reactions can include itching, swelling, or respiratory distress.

The consequences of a formicidae bite are characterized by immediate pain accompanied by a vesicular lesion that subsides after about 45 minutes. In case of an allergy to the venom, the lesion can lead to dysfunction of certain organs, edema, erythema, or itching.

Use shea butter to soothe insect bites.

The shea butter contains unsaponifiable components, fatty acids, latex, and vitamins. It is embraced in the field of cosmetology for its nourishing, soothing, healing, and antioxidant properties for the skin.

Shea butter also possesses properties anti-inflammatory that allow it to combat skin inflammations such as insect bites. It owes this property to lupeol, a terpenic alcohol. This compound inhibits the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-12, through the NF-kB signaling pathway. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory virtues, shea butter is ideal for soothing inflammations caused by insect bites, reducing redness, and calming the skin.

It can be used alone, mixed with other ingredients, or incorporated into targeted treatments. To apply it, simply place a dab of shea butter in the palm of your hand and massage the area to be soothed, making circular movements until it is fully absorbed. The application is repeated until the marks from bites have disappeared.

It can also be used in conjunction with essential oils of lemongrass and lavender, which repel insects. Thelemongrass essential oil is a good analgesic, antiseptic, and mosquito repellent. As for thelavender essential oil, it has healing, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.


  • GAUTAM H. K. & al. Anti-inflammatory effects of shea butter through inhibition of iNos, Cox-2, and cytokines via the NF-kB pathway in Lps-activated J774 macrophage cells. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (2012).


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