When bug sprays don't work, and you're left with the itchy red welts so common this time of year, you can reach for anti-itch cream, or now you can reach for this. It's called the Therapik and claims to end pain and itch in 30 seconds by using heat from a tiny light bulb.
"It may be destroying some of the proteins that are injected by the female mosquito, and those are the things that elicit the immune response... that you get itching and that sort of thing with it," said Dr. Michael Kaufman, Associate Prof., Dept of Entomology MSU
It makes sense, but it seems too good to be true, so we decided to test it out. A stroll in the woods quickly led to five mosquito bites, and I used the treatment as directed. Manufacturers recommend using it right after you're bitten.
You take the device and press the button. A light comes up, and you apply it to wherever you got the bite. You hold it on there for about 30 seconds or until it gets very warm and you can't take it anymore. And you're not supposed to have any pain or itching ever at the bite site.
Five bug bites treated for thirty seconds each. Two and a half minutes later I was done. Immediately after I used the Therapik, the bite sites were still itchy and swollen. But within the hour, the itching stopped, the swelling went away, and now there's no evidence I was ever bitten. So, it works, but it's not easy to carry around, and it must be used immediately after a bite. There are times you don't know you're being bitten.
"This is one of the things that the mosquito tries to avoid. it doesn't want you to know because you're going to smash it. And while it's feeding.... some of these things actually numb the sensation," said Kaufman.
Our verdict- the Therapik is effective but not necessarily practical. The device recently got FDA approval and is being sold at Wal-mart and online at retailers like Amazon.com. It sells for around $12.
The device is also supposed to work on bee and wasp stings and even jelly fish stings. If it doesn't work with one 30 second treatment, you can use it multiple times until you notice some relief. There are no warnings against use on children, but that bulb is warm, and you have to hold still to use it. so we wouldn't recommend it for children under five.