My leg is itchy. Not all of it, just the now-healing spot where a mosquito bit me over the weekend. The scab is tiny, indicating I barely scratched it after the bite, but there’s still something there.
I think I have Bite Helper to thank for not enduring a week’s worth of itchiness, though I can’t be certain.
In a nutshell, Bite Helper is a battery-operated, $39.95 hand-held gadget that uses a combination of focused heat and vibration to reduce mosquito bites to harmless, itch-free bumps.
Bite Helper has a plastic, somewhat pickle-shaped body; a flat, metallic business end; and one-button operation. To use the device, you place the quarter-sized metal front directly on the bite (as soon as you notice it), press the button and its so-called “Thermo-Pulse Technology” goes to work. For maximum effectiveness, you hold it in place for between 30 and 45 seconds.
To understand how Bite Helper works, though, you need to know what happens when a mosquito bites you. After landing on your skin, the mosquito uses its needle-like mouth to pierce your tender flesh and immediately injects some of its own saliva into your skin to prevent blood coagulation, which would cause the mosquito to get stuck.
Your body identifies the saliva as “not you” and sends antibodies and histamine to attack the area. The result is a combination of a bump and, thanks to the histamine, the itch.
Bite Helper is not a mosquito repellent. It’s there to deal with the aftermath of the bite. In theory, Bite Helper’s 120-degree heat, which comes through on the metal end, neutralizes that saliva (basically by heating it up until it becomes inert) and the vibration also increases blood flow to the effected area. This combo is supposed to stop the itch.
It joins a legion of mosquito bite itch home remedies, including honey, aspirin paste, pre-outdoor-party allergy medicine, alcohol, Aloe Vera, and making an “X” with your nail on the bite. While some attack the histamine reaction, others deal in distraction, replacing an itch with pain.
This is, at least, a more technical solution to an age-old problem.
I took Bite Helper home over the July 4 holiday weekend, knowing we had an outdoor party that would put me amidst thousands of blood-thirsty mosquitoes for hours on end. I also offered to test It on any one of my guests. Only my daughter volunteered, but more on that later.
I’d been told that Bite Helper is most effective if used shortly after the bite occurs, but I usually don’t notice mosquito bites until hours later when I feel the itch or happen to run my fingers over a developing bump.
Before my first bite, though, my teenage daughter presented me with two nasty welts on her knee. I made sure her knee was dry (Bite Helper warns against using it on wet skin), applied the tip to the bites and pressed the power button.
I made the mistake of telling her how hot the pulse heat gets and she started complaining it was burning her after just 10 seconds and I had to pull it off the bites (twice). I couldn’t decide if this was just suggestion at work or she really felt the pain. I say that because, when I did end up using Bite Helper, I never felt heat that was too uncomfortable to bear.
Finally, I identified a couple of fresh-ish bites on my calf and ankle and went to work. Each time, I held Bite Helper on my bite for 45 seconds. It was just a little uncomfortable.
Later, one bite was a little itchy. Not as bad as normal, but not itch-free either. That’s the spot with the little scab. The other bite disappeared a few days later and I can’t recall scratching it at all.
Mashable Executive Editor Jessica Coen also took a Bite Helper over the weekend. In her case, it traveled with her to warm, sticky, mosquito-rich Florida. Like me, she’s a mosquito magnet.
She told me that she and others she tried it on thought it appeared to decrease the intensity and the duration of the mosquito bite itch. But she also wondered if they were experiencing a placebo effect, meaning the suggestion that this would work tricked their minds into making it work.
I understand that. I’ve never used anything quite like Bite Helper for my bites. Was my mostly positive experience a result of a desperate desire for something to solve this vexing mosquito bite problem?
Another co-worker, though, insisted that it didn’t help him with his bites, though he later admitted that he applied the device to bumps of indeterminate age. As far as I can tell, there’s a limited window of efficacy for Bite Helper. I doubt it could defeat the itch on any bump discovered 24 hours after the initial bite.
Bite Helper isn’t a cure for mosquito bites, but it may be one more semi-effective tool in an arsenal “sometimes they work” mosquito bite remedies.
Kind of works • Easy to use • Affordable
Some people complain it gets too hot • Only good useful after you’ve been bitten
The Bottom Line
Bite Helper is not necessarily a mosquito bite cure, but it shows some real potential.
Get more stuff like this in your INBOX
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.