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I tried this 'venom vacuum' gadget to treat bug bites — here's what happened

No more itching or scratching!
TODAY Illustration / Katie Jackson

Break out the swimsuits and beach essentials (if you haven't already) because summer is officially less than a week away. Unfortunately, that also means mosquito season is right around the corner.

Around this time, I normally end up buying more hydrocortisone cream than sunscreen. This year, however, I decided to try something that's better for my budget and my bites. It's the No. 1 bestseller in the "Best Insect Bite Treatments" category on Amazon. It's also something I've been meaning to try ever since I saw it on "Shark Tank."

Bug Bite Thing

Aptly named the Bug Bite Thing, this tool is designed to work on most bites. In addition to mosquitoes, you can use it on bites from flies, chiggers, no-see-ums, sea lice and more. It also works on bee and wasp stings and can even be used to remove splinters.

Bug Bite Thing
Bug Bite Thing

To be clear: It's meant to be used after you've been bitten. That's why when I'm hiking, I still carry an effective mosquito repellent.

How it works

removable head of the Bug Bite Thing
Katie Jackson

When I describe this tool to my friends, and I do describe it to my friends because I think it's so cool, I call it a "venom vacuum." That's a fancy way of saying it's basically a suction cup that removes insect irritants like saliva and venom left under the skin. In theory, when you remove what's irritating your skin, you won't have the signature swelling and redness that follows most bites.

Using the Bug Bite Thing at the lake
Katie Jackson

The best way to describe how to use it is to think of giving yourself a reverse injection, except there's no needle, so it doesn't hurt at all. It actually feels kind of cool! The process takes about 10 seconds, and there's even a cap at the end that you can turn around for a smaller area of suction.

The tool works best if you use it immediately after you notice a bug bite, though one verified Amazon reviewer had luck using it up to two days later.

How well it works

A mosquito biting me in my dining room
Katie Jackson

I haven't used it days after I've been bitten, but I have used it immediately after. Unlike Alaska, Montana doesn't say its state bird is the mosquito. Still, we have our fair share. I've taken vacations at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake — where I stayed just a stone's throw from prime mosquito habitat. However, I also see the little buggers in my house, which is nowhere near a large body of water.

But it doesn't matter where I am or where I've been bitten — this thing works! Every time I've used it, my bite has never turned into a bump or irritated me in any way.

My arm after the mosquito bit me
Katie Jackson

My only irritation comes from not being able to see the venom I suck up. I wish the extraction was as satisfying as watching Dr. Pimple Popper, but sadly, it's not. In fact, when I reached out to the Bug Bite Thing's PR representative and asked if I could use it on pimples, she said they didn't recommend it.

For now, I'll just stick to using it for bug-related purposes. And instead of counting bites, I'll be counting up all the money I'm saving by not having to buy as much hydrocortisone cream.

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