Spiders all up on my face
May 6, 2012 8:37 PM   Subscribe

How big a deal is this numbness following a (presumed) spider bite?

So I woke up today with a tender bump about a quarter inch below my lower lip. I've sort of become increasingly aware that the left side of my lower lip, which it's closer to, is a little bit numb and unresponsive, like I had a shot of dental anesthetic, though not quite as ridiculously floppy and numb as that. Basically, if I'm baring my teeth, that side doesn't show the lower teeth and the other side does.

YANMD, and I assume this isn't too big an issue, and that numbness and paralysis are basically the same thing when it comes to fiddly little superficial muscles like the ones around the mouth, but it's disconcerting enough when looking in the mirror to warrant a question.
posted by Nomiconic to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, I'd have that checked out right away. Facial paralysis -- especially the kind that might leave you drooling -- is nothing to fool around with.
posted by apparently at 8:42 PM on May 6, 2012

Not to be alarmist but I'd also seek rapid treatment on this - if not ER tonight, then clinic tomorrow. Spider bites can resolve themselves but depending on the spider, they can also be serious.
posted by Miko at 8:42 PM on May 6, 2012

You might be okay, but you may have been poisoned and you may be experiencing paralysis as a result of that venom. Go to an ER and get checked out. It could continue to get worse!
posted by J. Wilson at 8:42 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

ER, now. Bites can get worse, fast, and you don't want to wait until something worse happens to get it treated. It could also go away on it's own, but do you want to bet on that?
posted by DoubleLune at 8:45 PM on May 6, 2012

You were bitten by a spider and are going numb? ER, not internet.
posted by ellF at 8:50 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Better safe than sorry: ER. This is one of those times you don't really want to wait and see if it gets worse. It's your face!
posted by puritycontrol at 9:04 PM on May 6, 2012

The numbness is noticeable enough to see in the mirror? Go to the ER.

Good luck!
posted by lilac girl at 9:26 PM on May 6, 2012

Facial paralysis is possibly a dire sign of serious issues. The spider bite may be a red herring. Just get to the ER. I would not wait till tomorrow.
posted by chairface at 10:10 PM on May 6, 2012

ER immediately. Please take this seriously!
posted by anonnymoose at 10:17 PM on May 6, 2012

Best answer: So in North America I can't think of a species of spider whose bite causes paralysis and numbness. Black widow envenomation can cause tetany but it is usually very painful, and medical treatment is usually aimed at pain control. Oh, and btw, my understanding is the post-envenomation skin grafts are typically for Hyaluronidase type venoms, which are pretty rare in your neighborhood. Regardless, don't expect an anti-venom.

But I can think of a range of other medical conditions that can cause nerve problems of the face, ranging from the mild and self resolving to the chronic and very serious, so this is splitting hairs. Regardless of the cause of the numbness you should visit a doctor. But, should you go to the emergency room?

Given that its midnight on Sunday ask yourself is this a genuine emergency? I'm just a student, but I'm curious what people responding to your question are so very concerned about. Extremely localized parathesia in a 21 year old is usually not serious, right? Typing facial paralysis or facial asymmetry into WebMD will give you some scary potential diagnoses. But more important than the symptoms would be how fast did they occur? Are the symptoms still getting worse?

Is it possible the lip is just very swollen from some other insect bite, and that's why it's hard to move? The nerves for facial sensation and muscle movement actually travel through different paths on the way to the lip, so if you're not having any other symptoms, or pain this might just be some very localized phenomena. Have you had any trouble with other types of facial muscle movement? Any trouble swallowing, breathing or talking? Are your eyelids symmetric? If everything else is reassuring (and given you seem pretty untroubled by this) this could wait for a urgent care visit in the morning.
posted by midmarch snowman at 10:38 PM on May 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

The reason we we are urging immediate action is because we are not doctors. No one can diagnose squat from across the internet. Any recommendation other than "ER. Now." is not responsible, especially when there's even a slim possibility it's a stroke.

The OP never even mentions seeing a spider. It's just an assumption.
posted by chairface at 11:55 PM on May 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

And, I was bitten by a brown recluse spider and yes, the immediate area hurt (bad!) but the area surrounding the painful bit was tingly and odd feeling. I left the first ER, who said it was a boil and drove 45 mins to the next hospital down the road, where they correctly diagnosed it. Several weeks of repacking the necrosed wound later and things healed up (though I have a divot just left of T-3 that swells up if I'm sick. Odd, right?).

That is to say ER, now. Do not wait.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:31 AM on May 7, 2012

ER NOW! Get a doctor's opinion. If it is nothing you are out some money, but if it a bad spider bite, you could be seriously disfigured or worse without prompt medical care.
posted by mermayd at 3:24 AM on May 7, 2012

One way to get an idea of whether it actually is a spider bite is to get someone to have a close look - if it is a spider bite you should see two puncture wounds from the two spider fangs. Probably best to seek medical attention for either scenario though.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 6:20 AM on May 7, 2012

Best answer: I'm an ER doctor and I can't diagnose you over the internet, but I can add a few things to this discussion:

1. Nerve or brain issues do not usually present with a red bump on your face (except perhaps shingles, which is a nerve issue, but I would expect that to be more like a blister).
2. Mythically, everyone who ever has an unexplained red bump on them always thinks it's a spider bite. Even if they did not see a spider biting them. No one ever thinks it was an ant or mosquito or that it's actually an ingrown hair causing a little abscess, or the fifty other explanations for red bumps. It's always "SPIDER BITE!"
3. People who have swelling of a part of their body, whether it's because of a sprained ankle or whatever, often have tingling or numbness sensation over the area that is swollen, because it is swollen and that feels weird.

I cannot tell you whether this red bump of yours is serious or not, whether it is a spider bite or not, but I hope that is helpful. If you are planning to seek care now, I do think you could utilize an urgent care facility rather than an ER, and I would also recommend calling your primary care doctor to see if they have any urgent appointments available, many offices keep slots open for last minute issues. If the first person who sees you thinks this is emergent they can always refer you to the ER, but you'd probably save money (either on your co-pay or, if you're uninsured, on the whole visit).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:16 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I think I probably erred in assuming it was a spider bite, as a couple of people have pointed out. No change as of today, so I will go ahead and get a doctor's appointment. Thanks for all the responses and concern.

(And for anyone interested, the slightly tender bump and the numbness are pretty much the totality of my symptoms. At no point was there any particular pain, and the lip itself isn't swollen at all. The bump isn't even very apparent, except by touch.)
posted by Nomiconic at 12:24 PM on May 7, 2012

I am glad you are seeing a doctor. One good tip from my doctor, when I called about an alarming black abscess that was freaking me out considerably, was "Bad things get worse." In other words, if it's sort of bumping along steady-state, then it's probably not an emergency and can wait until office hours. (There are, of course, many obvious counterexamples to this tip, but it's a decent rule of thumb.)
posted by KathrynT at 1:07 PM on May 7, 2012

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