How to treat a (suspected) spider bite?
August 21, 2010 10:35 PM   Subscribe

So I think I got bitten by a spider two nights ago on my shin. What should I do about it, if anything?

This is what the bite and nearby area look like, and have since I first noticed it when changing for bed the same night. That is, it hasn't spread since then.

It doesn't hurt at all, but does itch like crazy. I've put OTC hydrocortisone cream on it to ease the itchiness, which helps. Is there anything more I can/should do? Should I go to the doctor about it? Why are the red spots other than the one with the bite mark in it there? Is it possible it was something other than a spider that bit me -- and if so, what?

Yes, I know, YANAD, or if you are YANMD.
posted by cerebus19 to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
I highly doubt it's a spider bite. A bite or sting of some sort? Probably. Two nights ago, you're fine. It'll probably scab up soon enough. Some people react very badly to any sort of bite or sting. Myself, I was stung by a yellowjacket over a month ago and I still have a scabby nasty wound from it.
posted by sanka at 10:51 PM on August 21, 2010

I'm also skeptical it's a spider bite, especially since it's an itchy sore and looks somewhat blotchy. I'm thinking fleas, bedbugs, allergen, or an irritant of some kind.
posted by crapmatic at 10:56 PM on August 21, 2010

Take antihistamines. And keep using the hydrocortisone. The bite is bad enough, but those disconnected red areas are weird. If they haven't gone away in by Monday morning, it will be time to call a doctor, and if they spread, that will be the time to call a doctor right away! (also if you get a fever or that area fells warm-ish or swells.)
posted by Some1 at 10:56 PM on August 21, 2010

Best answer: It looks like flea or chigger bites to me. If you haven't had any spreading and/or other symptoms for two days, you're probably fine. Just keep an eye on it, and if it gets worse or if you experience any other symptoms, go ahead and call a doctor.
posted by amyms at 11:04 PM on August 21, 2010

Is it hot to the touch?
posted by IndigoRain at 12:07 AM on August 22, 2010

Where are you/were you when you got this? I'm answering this from the Northeastern US - that's not a spider bite. It's a flea bite, most likely.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 3:02 AM on August 22, 2010

I don't know if it is in fact a spider bite. But I know that I got bit by a spider once in Central America, and my ankle swelled up to the size of a large pummelo. It was like a reverse cankle, as my ankle was bigger than my calf for about a week (until I went to the doctor and got some meds), No superpowers. It didn't really itch, but the swelling was straining my joints and it was painful to walk.

I'd clean it up, put some Neosporin or something similar on it, and cover it up. You'll probably be fine.
posted by raztaj at 5:30 AM on August 22, 2010

I get spider bites all the time. I don't know what it is, but those little bastards love me.

I don't know what you've got going on, but that is not a spider bite.
posted by phunniemee at 5:38 AM on August 22, 2010

Best answer: Spider toxin necrotizes tissue so you get sharp pain and suppuration (oozing). Nthing "not a spider" so just hit it with some hydrocortisone and put a steripad on top of the whole rig to keep from abraiding it (and to see if it does start suppurating).
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:46 AM on August 22, 2010

I don't know. The large one looks like the spider bites (known without a doubt to be caused by a spider) I've had, and it resembles the ones other members of my family have had. The rashy bit looks like something else, so maybe you were bitten by two things or by one thing and it's coincidence that the larger part resembles a spider bite.

If it is a spider bite, and you're not in an area known for poisonous spiders (such as New England), then some anti-itch medicine or aloe should help. Try to keep from scratching it and it should heal up in a few days.

In the event it may be a flea or something else, I'd wash all your bedclothes and clothes thoroughly in hot water and do an inspection of your furniture, and any pets should be combed to see if they're carrying something.
posted by zizzle at 6:51 AM on August 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions and anti-spider reasoning. I live in Northern Virginia, so the only exotic spiders we have around are brown recluse and black widow, and I know enough about those to be 100% certain this isn't from either.

I suspect I got the bite while over at a neighbor's house, sitting on the deck and chatting. I doubt either of my cats has fleas, since they haven't been scratching or licking themselves more than usual, And, fortunately, this is the only non-mosquito bite I've received so far, so bedbugs are out.

I'm just going to keep an eye on it and put the cortisone cream on it so I don't scratch it, and go to the doctor if it doesn't improve.

Thanks again!
posted by cerebus19 at 7:10 AM on August 22, 2010

Could be bedbugs?
posted by Justinian at 7:42 AM on August 22, 2010

I'm going to way bum you out here, but it looks like bedbug bites to me and, alas, I have more experience than I wish I did. The fact that it's still itching like crazy is a big bedbug sign. Also, those four blotches? Four bites. They like to bite in clusters like that and then really chomp down on just one place. I've gone through the bedbug nightmare twice and both times I tried to convince myself that it was spider or flea or mosquito bites until finally I couldn't deny it anymore. Be on the lookout for more - they don't bite every night; sometimes it's only once a week - and if you do get more, well, my sympathy. Attack them before they've completely established themselves in your house.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:17 AM on August 22, 2010

(Fleas bite in clusters just like bedbugs do. And a flea bite can definitely itch for a good couple of days. It's still worth keeping a close eye out for bedbugs — mygothlaundry is right that you want to catch them early if you've got them — but what you're describing sounds perfectly consistent with fleas as well.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:29 PM on August 22, 2010

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