(Investigator 111, 2006 November)
Treating itchy sandfly bites with heat may be more effective than commercial preparations from the pharmacy.
Sandfly bites can itch severely enough to wreck one's sleep for a week. Scratching the problem can create sores that take several further weeks to heal.
The writer regularly goes to Kangaroos Island. There, working or reading out of doors in warm weather sometimes results in numerous sandfly bites.
The best commercial treatments available at pharmacies were, in the writer's experience, only partly effective. Liberal application gave partial relief after half an hour which continued for about another two hours. Severe bites got virtually no relief.
One night while reading by candlelight and distracted by itching, the writer held a bite site as close to the candle flame as the pain threshold permitted and then pulled away, and repeated several times.
The itching stopped immediately.
Surprised, the writer repeated the procedure on all his sandfly bites – on ankles, hands, thighs, shins and chin.
In all cases the itching stopped. The most severe bite, a 2-centimetre-diameter, red elevation on the shin resumed itching the next morning. But two further candle-flame treatments that day stopped that itch again, this time permanently.
No more itch meant no more scratching. Bites that normally took three weeks to disappear were gone in one week.
An inventor could potentially make and patent an electrical device that delivers the correct amount of heat – after all a candle flame is often impractical, difficult to apply to some body areas, and dangerous near clothing or hair.
Presumably the heat treatment works by deactivating the chemical that causes the itching.