Battery-Powered Device Helps Neutralize Bug Bites
Bite Helper is a battery-powered, wand-like device capable of neutralizing itches from bug bites through thermal-pulse technology which delivers concentrated heat and vibration to a specific area where someone has been bitten by an insect.
The device increases circulation, blood, and denatures proteins in the insect saliva under the skin where an individual has been bitten to neutralize the irritant and soothe the itch.
While the developer of Bite Helper, Eugene Zabolotsky, was living in Africa, he began to notice that mosquito bites were a problem impacting billions of people a year, with over 700 million people infected with mosquito-borne diseases each year around the world.
“People assume that bugs like mosquitos bite because of blood type, but they can only sense certain pheromones in the way you smell, and they use our blood not to feed and eat, but to procreate,” said Zabolotsky.
Before 2015, the product market for alleviating bug bites did not focus on stopping the insects from biting on hosts, and so Zabolotsky turned to technology as a way to help or alter the effect of the bites through a device.
“Our ancestors used heat and charcoal from the fire to try to burn out insect populations, and I wondered if we could use the natural body response implemented in a personal product in the same way,” said Zabolotsky.
Zabolotsky said most of the pharmacological options for treating insect bites, like ointments and creams, can be toxic and utilize steroids, antihistamine sedative agents or ammonia based hazardous chemicals that could cause skin discoloration.
“Keep in mind that creams and lotions do not address the cause of the ‘itch and irritation’ they only mask the symptoms at best, however the Bite Helper neutralizes the cause of the itch, which is the irritant under the skin,” said Zabolotsky.
Zabolotsky compared the ability of the device to neutralize a bug bite through heat to the way our body naturally responds to sickness, through a fever, as it attempts to raise the temperature to kill from within and overcome the disease.
However, while the device helps to neutralize bug bites, it also could potentially serve to prevent the spread of diseases like Malaria and Dengue. The product has already been tested in mice that were injected with Malaria, and researchers noticed that most of the mice which received the treatment of Bite Helper lived, while the mice that did not receive the treatment died.
“Malaria takes a long time to develop, there is an incubation period before the malaria parasite develops in the bloodstream, but if we can get the affected area heated up within hours of the bite, the likelihood of it spreading are close to zero,” said Zabolotsky.
The product was placed on the market in 2016 to a test audience, where researchers could identify if there was an acceptance in the market for technology-based solutions to combat bug bites versus the creams and ointments that consumers are used to using.
By 2018, Zabolotsky said five or six similar products emerged on the market to compete with Bite Helper, as more companies saw the opportunity for sales.
Zabolotsky said the benefits of the device are that it is cost-effective and it poses no hazard to humans or the environment.
Zabolotsky is also developing products similar to Bite Helper technology. Currently, he said the Northeast is experiencing increases in ticks due to increases in deer population, which is leading to higher case counts of Lyme disease in places like New York, and he hopes to next develop a product capable of combating tick bites, and wearable repellents.
A newer version of Bite Helper will be released in the next couple weeks that will have a fine-tuned thermostat, and next year Zabolotsky hopes to use the bite helper device in conjunction with a mobile phone app.
“Technology is giving us solutions in many areas but hasn’t been applied to personal health. We see this applied to dermatology and beautification, but not everyday care, like what we need at home,” said Zabolotsky.
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