Heat It review: if you are a frequent snack for mosquitoes and other insects, you need this

App-enabled device uses heat to take the aggravation out of bites, but make sure you follow the instructions

a smartphone with a small blue dongle plugged into the bottom, and a screen displaying a treatment in progress
Heat It
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Price: €30
Where To Buy: Amazon

There was a moment during this week’s review when I briefly regretted my career choices. Maybe it sounds dramatic, but at the time it felt completely justified.

I was putting myself though “mild heat-induced pain” in the name of journalism. Well, journalism and the pursuit of the ultimate tech-fuelled insect bite treatment. Bear with me on this one, it gets better.

Mosquitoes love me. I am a walking, talking banquet for the insects, a Happy Meal they can feast on, leaving me with itchy welts that hang around for weeks.

I’ve tried everything. Creams to take the itch away, after bite concoctions that get right in the back of your throat and make your eyes water. The small devices that zap the bite to try to take the itch away. Sprays and bands to deter the mosquitoes to start with. Zinc supplements that are supposed to do something though I’ve long forgotten exactly what.

Nothing has worked effectively long term.

So it was with a large degree of scepticism that I approached Heat It. The tiny device plugs into the port on your smartphone and uses an app to deliver hyperthermic treatment to your insect bite to stop the itching in its tracks. The “mild” pain caused by the heating will temporarily disrupt the stimulus from the bite, removing the urge to scratch.

In other words, it’s going to heat up the bite site to get rid of the symptoms.

Interested? I was.

Heat It is made by a German company, and I had come across it before. But due to previous experience of wasting money on “miracle” treatments, I wasn’t prepared to shell out yet more money on what could have proved a dud.

But a recent family holiday tipped me over the edge – or at least the several nights of snacking on my ankles from the local mosquitoes did. By the time we were at the airport to come home, I had polka dot shins – lumpy, itchy ones – and the anti-itch creams were only holding the symptoms at bay for so long.

I’d already cracked halfway through the holiday and ordered Heat It, so it was sitting waiting for me when I landed in Dublin. And at that stage, I was eager to get started.

A few caveats. Because this device is phone dependent, you need a smartphone capable of carrying the app. That in itself isn’t an issue, but if you have switched to a retro feature phone – one that doesn’t allow you to download apps for everything in your life – you won’t be able to use it. A trade-off between your time and your comfort; only you can make that decision

You will also need one that is designed for your phone – a lightning port for Apple iPhone 14 and older; an Android specific model for USB C phones; and a more expensive special edition available only from Heat It at the moment that will cover both iPhone 15 USB C models and Android. The Android-only USB C device, which is available on Amazon and other third-party sellers, won’t work in the iPhone.

With that out of the way, the treatment itself is simple. The app allows you to choose the length of treatment from three options – four, seven or nine seconds – dependent on whether it is for an adult or child, and finally, if you are treating an area of skin that you might consider sensitive.

There are some warnings – the treatment itself might be a bit unpleasant, leave at least two minutes between treatments and, crucially, start off with the mildest of all settings: child mode, short treatment and sensitive skin.

You hit Go and wait for the app to tell you to apply the device to the bite, then you hold it against your skin while the clock counts down. There’s a visual indicator on screen and an audible one to tell you when to start and stop.

Follow the instructions. I can’t stress this enough. As someone who just dives right in, I did not, and I regretted it. I set it for the longest time period (mistake number one; “sure it’s only a few seconds more”) and chose the adult treatment rather than the child option, which was mistake number two.

You have no idea how long nine seconds can be when your skin is being heated up to a level approaching deeply unpleasant. The only saving grace was that the sensitive skin option was left checked. Mistake number three was ignoring the instruction to stop using it if it caused anything other than mild heat-related pain.

On the plus side, I was no longer thinking about the itching.

So the second time around, on a different bite, I went for the recommended settings. Much more pleasant, if that’s a word you want to use about pressing a warmed up device on an insect bite, and it still stopped the itching sensation almost immediately.

The ultimate question: does it work longer term? The short answer is yes. The long answer: some bites took a couple of treatments but ultimately they stopped itching and eventually disappeared.

Do you have to get the bite when it’s newly delivered? No. It worked on my five-day old welts as well as the new ones I picked up on the trip home. They just took a couple of treatments to go away. No itching, which means no scratching, which means no welts.

You could say that they were on the way out anyway, but previous experience tells me that wasn’t the case.

Good

It’s easy to use, and it works. There is no medication or foul-smelling potions to deal with. The different options for treatment mean it can be used on children as well as adults, and it can be used on more sensitive skin. And it doesn’t just work for mosquitoes – horseflies, bees and wasps are also covered.

Bad

It’s not the most pleasant of sensations, though if you follow the instructions instead of going at it full pelt, it will work out better. Also, you will need one specific to your operating system or iPhone model.

Everything else

The Heat It comes with a cover that can be attached to a keyring, making it easier to keep with you.

Verdict

If you are a frequent snack for insects, you need this.

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