Mysterious bug bite with a gigantic welt
June 27, 2007 2:30 PM   Subscribe

AustinBugFilter: Mysterious bite caused a strikingly large welt. What could it be?

I think I got bitten by something in my backyard last night. I didn't notice the bite itself, but about five minutes after I got inside, I noticed the back of my calf hurt, and I saw an gigantic red welt around a single puncture. I put ice on it before I went to bed.

It's about 20 hours later and it still aches. The welt is about three inches in diameter and hard and hot to the touch. Last night it was red, but now, it's just a nickel-sized red circle around the puncture, and it quickly fades to my pasty flesh tone over the rest of the welt. I'd take a picture, but it's hard to see -- it's really just striking how hard and hot it is. It's also itchy all over.

I'm in Austin. We have tons of mosquitos in the backyard, and I have plenty of mosquito bites on other body parts, but this is way too big to be a mosquito bite. We also have tons of spiders, but the bite is clearly a single puncture.

What do you think bit me? I'm curious as to what kind of insect I need to watch out for when I go outside.

While I dislike the AskMeFi "something awful happened to me, do you think I should go to the doctor?" questions that answer themselves, I'm also curious if it's ... something so awful that I should go to the doctor, or if ice and aspirin are enough.

Thanks much.
posted by liet to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I would definitely call someone, at least. While it's probably nothing, if it IS a bad spider bite, the sooner you get it treated the better.
posted by pupdog at 2:40 PM on June 27, 2007

I think if it's hot that means the white blood cells are battling with whatever got in there -- get it checked out for sure. I've heard horror stories (Google for stories on brown spider bites if you never want to sleep again.)
posted by loiseau at 2:44 PM on June 27, 2007

The time frame between the sting and noticing is a little long, but other than that it sounds like a wasp or hornet.
posted by Manjusri at 2:46 PM on June 27, 2007

I'd go see a doctor. We often see people in the ER who come in for "spider bite but I don't remember a spider biting me" and hey, it turns out to be MRSA, an antibiotic-resistent skin bacteria. Especially if it's so warm and tender to the touch.

(I'm not a doctor, I'm not your doctor, you're not my patient, and any reasonable medical person you ask online is almost always going to err on the side of caution and tell you to see a doctor.) You don't want to mess with MRSA.
posted by gramcracker at 2:47 PM on June 27, 2007

Okay, I made an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow. (Man, now I'm one of those "I'm on the verge of death, should I go to the doctor?" AskMeFi posters.)

I'm still curious as to what kind of insect it could have been -- as a single puncture, doesn't that rule spiders out?
posted by liet at 3:00 PM on June 27, 2007

While I think it's wise to see a doctor, FWIW your description does sound like what happens when a mosquito bites the back of my calf in certain places. Since I have crummy veins and often have swelling in that area, I think it's from poor superficial circulation. The biting-insect toxins just sort of sit and fester rather than getting washed out.

If you're not already, it may be beneficial to keep the bite elevated above heart level to see if that helps.
posted by backupjesus at 3:12 PM on June 27, 2007

I got a really weird bite or something on my hip a month or so ago - it got all red and itchy (and big! Like, the size of, I don't know, a half-dollar), and I had a hard bump that eventually came to a head.

It kind of reminded me of a fire ant bite, but normally when I get bit by fire ants, at least on my feet, which is where 99% of my biting happens, it doesn't get all big and welty.

I never figured out what it is, but I eventually popped it (I know, gross) and now I still have a scar. I am pretty sure, though, that it was just a mosquito bite that I had a freaky reaction to (it might have been irritated by the fact that it was right where my pants hit my hip, so there was abrasion, probably as well).

Honestly, I don't think it's a big deal. If you die from some horribly necrotized brown recluse bite, please don't sue me, but I wouldn't go to the doctor for a stupid insect bite unless it was like, turning black or red and streaky.

(you weren't really bitten by a brown recluse, you would know, I am pretty sure, by now).
posted by mckenney at 3:31 PM on June 27, 2007

I have real bad reactions to some mosquito bites. Depending on the type of mosquito and where they bite me, I can get welts of 6 inches in diameter that are hot to the touch and painful and itchy as hell. It didn't used to happen, but allergies are funny and fickle like that. Eventually the welts turn strawberry red and can take weeks to fade. Needless to say, I wear pants and long sleeves in the summer.

When this first started happening to me, I went to a dr. who thought it was lyme disease because some of the welts had a bullseye look about them. It wasn't. After plenty of empirical observation, it turns out it's just mosquito bites gone bad. If you can afford to go to the doctor, might as well, but it's probably just an allergic reaction to a skeeter bite.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 4:53 PM on June 27, 2007

I was going to suggest scorpion but the the stings I've seen cover a much larger area, like the size of a hand.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:31 PM on June 27, 2007

Trust me, dude, if you got stung by a scorpion, you would know it, immediately. I got a little one that got the side of my foot and I thought I had been stabbed by a tiny little spike of pure evil.
posted by mckenney at 7:35 PM on June 27, 2007

You might have been bitten by a pretty wimpy bug that you happen to have an allergic reaction to. My son had a spider bite that looked awful and scared us (we have black widows all over down here; we find egg sacs near the pool!), but he just needed antihistamines. I would suggest benadryl until you see the doctor.
posted by misha at 8:20 PM on June 27, 2007

We have plenty of scorpions here, and from what I've heard, they're not as venemous as they are in other parts of the country. Their bites are "Ow, crap!! That hurts!" sort of bites, rather than "Call 911! I can't feel my lungs" bites.

It could also have been a wasp or yellowjacket. We have those here, too, and those would be my first guess.

If you decide to go to the emergency room, I highly recommend South Austin Hospital on Ben White. I end up there about once a year, and I've always had a good experience.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:52 PM on June 27, 2007

Also sounds like a spot of poison ivy. Seriously.
posted by jdfan at 12:07 PM on June 28, 2007

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