First Aid for Stinging Nettles

Updated November 21, 2016

Common nettles, garden nettles and hybrid nettles are all referred to as stinging nettles because they are covered with small hairs that release pain-causing chemicals on contact, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The hollow, brittle hairs contain histamine, which causes swelling and rash, and acetylcholine, which causes a stinging sensation, according to Home Remedies.

Cover the stings with baking soda as soon as possible after coming in contact with the nettle hairs. Baking soda helps neutralise the acidic chemicals released from the hairs, according to Health Expert Advice.

Rinse the stings with clean cold water.

Pat the area with a clean, dry towel. Do not rub or press on the stings, to avoid pushing the hairs deeper into the skin or releasing more chemicals into the skin.

Apply adhesive tape, such as duct tape or masking tape, to the affected area and quickly remove it to pull out any remaining nettle hairs.

Apply a soothing cream, such as calamine lotion, aloe vera or an antihistamine cream, to the affected skin.


If baking soda is not available, Home Remedies suggests patting the area with an alkaline fruit or vegetable such as a cucumber slice, celery stick or a piece of avocado.


Avoid touching the stings with your bare hands before rinsing the affected area and removing the hairs to prevent spreading the chemicals to other areas of the body.

Things You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • Clean cold water
  • Clean, dry towel
  • Adhesive tape
  • Soothing cream
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author