What bit me?
September 16, 2007 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Something just bit me! I just got a very painful insect bite or sting. I can' t find the culprit and I've bever been stung or bit by anything other than a mosquito, so I'm not sure if I should be worried.

I brushed my hand against some clothes stacked on a chair and got a very painful sting. The light was on, but low, and I didn't see anything on the clothes or chair. I've looked around the area and don't see anything that looks alive.

There is a growing red, swollen area around a white center where the puncture is. The bite is on the back of my hand, near the base of my thumb, and the pain goes through to the palm and up to about the first thumb knuckle, so far. The red swollen area is about 1.5 by 1 inches, and the bite happened about 10 minutes ago, so not too fast growing. But it hurts like the dickens! It is throbbing and getting sort of numb.

I am currently in southeastern Michigan, in an apartment in a city. What could this be? When should I get worried, or alternately, when can I decide I shouldn't be worried?
posted by ohio to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
I hate the guy to say "yeah, you should be worried", but yeah, you should be worried.
posted by IvyMike at 7:22 PM on September 16, 2007

Oh Jesus, yeah. It might be something harmless, but that certainly sounds like a brown recluse habitat. Follow the advice on the internets, and if it gets any worse go to a doctor immediately.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:27 PM on September 16, 2007

If you have an allergy, benadryl might be a quick fix that will help some (it you're near a pharmacy).

Having grown up in Michigan and knowing what sorts of critters are around, it sounds like maybe a typical hornet/wasp sting (if it was a bee, you probably would see the stinger in your hand). I've been stung by wasps by accidentally by putting my hand on them before too.
posted by p3t3 at 7:31 PM on September 16, 2007

Yeah, Brown Recloose is a possibility too. I've only ever seen one in 27 years in Michigan, but better safe than sorry. Definitely keep monitoring your condition and consider getting help very soon if it's getting worse.
posted by p3t3 at 7:34 PM on September 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice! I looked up the normal reactions to hornet/wasp stings and for brown recluse stings and it looks like it's probably just a wasp. I'm still a bit concerned, since I can't find the culprit and a wasp would be pretty obvious. I'll just keep a close eye on it and I'll let y'all know if anything exciting happens.
posted by ohio at 7:50 PM on September 16, 2007

If you were in the south, I would guess that it could be a scorpion. They love to hide in clothing, especially if it's damp.
posted by lockle at 7:57 PM on September 16, 2007

I would seriously recommend getting it checked out. My brother ended up going to the hospital for a brown recluse bite he got off his bath towel.
posted by Hargrimm at 8:11 PM on September 16, 2007

I was going to say that it's invisible ants, since that's what my problem apparently was. My right flank was a buffet one night for unseen creatures, and it's only now just healing.

The thought that they could have been spiders...... *shudder*
posted by damnjezebel at 8:25 PM on September 16, 2007

Ice works great for reducing the swelling and itching. I'm allergic to almost everything that bites, and I typically take a Benedryl and apply an ice cube, both ASAP. I also clip my nails if I think I'll scratch the bite in my sleep.

No cause for alarm right now, but if you notice your allergic reaction following your vein up your arm (typically a red line, sometimes swollen or tender), call your doctor. You'll need antibiotics before it gets to your armpit, where your closest lymph node is. Yeah, ick.
posted by nadise at 9:20 PM on September 16, 2007

My wife recently got an almost identical to what you're describing bite on her arm. After a week of ignoring it she finally relented and went to the doctor. Some antibiotics were prescribed and she was sent on her way. They were pretty certain it was a brown recluse/black widow because the fang marks were visible in the center of the wound.

They really scary thing was that the nurse said she had seen about ten-fifteen bites in the last few months.

The nurse also told us that if we had any children under 80lbs to inspect them carefully each morning.

Fucking spiders.
posted by M Edward at 10:36 PM on September 16, 2007

The first time I was stung by a bee (in my early 20s) I immediately called my allergist. He said "if you can't breathe in the next 20 minutes, get yourself to a hospital." Nothing like happened and subsequent bee stings only hurt.

The point I'm trying to make is that if you find your having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately. If not, then you will probably just have to contend with the swollen, hurting area of the sting/bite. Others' suggestions for how to reduce the swelling and pain seem right to me.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:08 AM on September 17, 2007

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