Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Treating bug itch with technology

In my previous post, I reviewed small plug-in bug zappers that work very well at eliminating those few mosquitoes that get into my home.  Nonetheless, I get bitten fairly often while outside enjoying the beautiful Maine summers.  Years ago I read about a simple no-cost treatment for the itch and swelling of bug bites - you simply run the affected area under very hot water for as long as you can stand it.  Apparently this changes the composition of the histamine chemistry in your body.  I have used this technique for years and it is extremely effective at removing the itch and swelling almost immediately.  The only problem is when I get bit on a part of my body that doesn't lend itself to being placed under a faucet.

The solution is to use a device that can concentrate localized heat right on the bite.  It turns out there are a number of products on the market that do just that.  The Therapik Mosquito Bite Reliever is a small, affordable battery-powered device that works extremely well in my experience.
Therapik Mosquito Bite Reliever
This cool (hot!) device looks like a weapon from Star Trek the TV series.  One simply holds the red circle against the bite while holding down the button.  
A bright light comes on inside that quickly heats up the affected area.  The suggested hold time is around 20 to 30 seconds or to the point where the pain becomes unpleasant.  Some people make the mistake of turning off/removing the device as soon as they feel some heat which is typically within five seconds or so.  But it is important to maintain a connection long enough that the affected area is thoroughly heated up to the point of discomfort.
applying heat for 20 seconds or so
The Therapik operates from a single 9 V battery that seems to last a long time.

I read a German clinical study of a similar (but more expensive) product in which they concluded: "Locally administered, concentrated heat, which was recognized by the patients as a very short and targeted induction of almost painful high temperature on the skin, led to a fast improvement of ... swelling, pruritus (itching), and pain ... symptoms.  Compared with alternatives of pruritus and pain treatment after insect bites/stings, (it) seems to be the fastest treatment option already available."

I could not agree more.  So yes, this product (and ones like it) are the real deal.

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