Wherever you’re holidaying this year, be it a stay-cation or fortnight in Spain, there is the ever present threat of insect bites, pollen reactions and sunburn.

Our warm humid British summers create the ideal conditions for midges, mosquitoes, horse files, sand flies and ticks to thrive. Their bites can be painful (sometimes feeling as if a sharp needle has jabbed you) and can result in an itchy painful rash.

Some ticks carry Lyme’s Disease, an often mis-diagnosed condition that may not develop until several weeks after the initial bite. Lyme’s disease is characterised by a bull’s-eye shaped rash around the bite, flu-like symptoms, joint pains, severe fatigue and difficulties with concentration and memory.

There are a range of natural remedies to prevent and deter insect bites with anecdotal evidence supporting their effectiveness Many people swear by supplements of high dose vitamin B1 before travelling to mosquito ridden areas – the vitamin is said to alter the smell of sweat and repel the insects.

Others claim garlic does a similar job - though you may well repel your travelling companions at the same time.

Once you have been bitten, immune cells in your skin release histamine, which contributes to the swelling and itchy rashes. Hayfever symptoms are also a result of histamine release, this time in response to stimulation of the immune system by pollen and dust.

Natural anti-histamine products include nettle tea, vitamin C, apples, onions and cherries. Nettle tea can be drunk several times a day and the teabags used as soothing eye pads for itchy swollen eyes. With vitamin C supplementation, there is a form of vitamin C called ‘Ester C’ which has been shown to be better absorbed and retained in the system for longer than regular ascorbic acid. Taking 2-3 500mg doses of Ester C over the course of the day is an effective way to keep your system topped up with the nutrient. We are unable to store vitamin C for very long in the body as it is water soluble and excreted easily so regular doses are helpful. Do check for any contraindications with medications before supplementing with vitamins or herbal products – your local health food store staff will be able to help with this.

Apples, onions and cherries are rich sources of an antioxidant nutrient called quercetin. This works alongside vitamin C offering anti-histamine protection and you may even find it included in some vitamin C supplements. The cherry season is upon us so including these foods on a daily basis can be helpful in fighting hayfever and reducing histamine reactions.

And last but not least, should you get caught in the sun with no sunblock and end sunburned, cut a leaf from an aloe vera plant and squeeze the gel directly onto the skin. Aloe has wonderful soothing and healing benefits for skin and the leaf can be wrapped and kept in the fridge for several days.

- Sally Duffin is a nutritional therapist and writer based in Holgate, York