Did you know most bites are actually from non venomous bugs but because the area becomes infected, people point the finger at the brown recluse, black widow and other spiders.
A Staph Infection can result from any bug bite. One of our visitors was bitten by an unknown bug and was kind enough to document the entire process, from start to finish! Here is Dede’s well documented story and I am sure it will help those looking for answers:
3/9 – Got a bite on the top of my foot last Saturday. Never felt a thing. Noticed though what looked like a pimple. Knowing one doesn’t get pimples on ones foot I knew it was a spider bite. Sunday my foot was throbbing with pain. The bump area developed redness around it. Monday it was still throbbing and now the topside of my whole foot was pink. Tuesday I went to the Doctor. The symptoms or redness and pain were indicative of an infection and I wanted to treat that should it become systemic or staph. See the images below.
WHICH BY THE WAY…… insurance or not everyone that is concerned enough about the symptoms or progression, enough so to look it up online, should seek medical attention and at least get antibiotics and a tetanus shot if you hadn’t had one in the last 10 years. Have you not seen the pictures of what can ultimately develop? My flesh, my life – all worth the costs associated of seeing a Doctor over something that could go very bad. I’m not that much of a gambler and I do value my flesh and life.
Back to the Doctor visit…. Wasn’t much he could or should do at that point. I was prescribed a mild antibiotic, told to elevate my foot, cold compress (ice pack), ibuprofen. I had been using an ice-pack, which did help a bit. I even did an Epsom Salt compress (dissolve Epsom salts in hot water until the crystals stop dissolving – use about 1 cup of hot water and lots of Epsom salt – take paper towels immerse in the liquid then hold to the affected area. Keep repeating until the water cools – about 5-10 minutes). NOTE: This only helped the first night of throbbing pain. Wednesday and Thursday there wasn’t any improvement. Ah yes, I even tried a drawing salve but that only enhanced the bump forming under the bite and didn’t do much else. I do on occasion experience some stinging in the area but it only lasts for a few seconds.
Friday I went back to the Doctor because there hadn’t been any improvement and it was continuing to ache. The bump under the skin had grown a little as well. The Doctor did a little nick on the bump but hardly anything came out. He concurred that the drawing salve was of no benefit (I asked). He advised that he didn’t feel that it was a brown recluse bite but here in GA there are plenty of nasty cousins that could have been the culprit. (I never saw any spider and never knew it happened. Clearly from the location it happened as I was slipping my foot into a shoe and as I was probably about to squish the spider it elected to zap me a good one on it’s way out of this life, at least that’s how I envision it.) So the Doctor told me, same as the first, to keep my foot elevated, try to stay off of it, keep it covered, apply topical antiseptic cream (neosporin or bacitracin), use an ice-pack, take ibuprofen to help with the pain and swelling, and he prescribed another, second, antibiotic to help cover all the bases since the bite wasn’t improving at all.
Yesterday I awoke and noticed that the bite area/bump developed to white dots – looked like pimple heads next to each other, perhaps where a spider would have bitten me? Doubt that, it would have been one big spider with a very wide fang spread. I figure it was just two points in which whatever was brewing under my skin wanted to peak out. Later the same day there were two more white dots, a little closer together just below the others. I did sanitize a needle, poked each and gently (because any pressure is very painful at this point) apply pressure from the outside of the reddened raised area. I did not squeeze nor should anyone from what I’ve been reading. What came out started as pus (very loose) followed by some blood and plasma (clear). And yes, the act of doing that created a lot of pain under the skin. The actual top skin of the raised bump is rather numb. The pain I have is the pressure under the skin. Anyway, I did this a grand total of 4 times, twice before bed, once in the wee hours of the AM (could not sleep due to throbbing foot) and once this morning. The first two times much yuck gooped out from the 5 little holes I poked into each little head. I’m done with poking and any extra pressure.
Last night my foot from where my toes meet my foot up to just below my ankle was showing signs of Edema (water retention) and “dimples” when I poke it (finger indent stays for a few seconds after taking finger away). This morning my foot was exactly the same, even though I slept with it elevated all night. It’s not super puffy but when looking at it compared to my other foot I can easily see the difference.
Today is Sunday, one week and a day after the initial bite. Today I have been elevating it more than any day prior and have been applying an ice-pack. I take ibuprofen (2-3 capsules) every 4 hours. I applied some baking soda paste (w/water) to it and have it covered. Why? Because someone wrote here about that and I’ll attempt things that seem logical to me and this did.
To be honest, I am a little freaked out at the thought of the top of my foot looking anything like some of these pictures with gaping wounds. I think it’s natural to assume the worst. The 2nd Doctor I saw predicted the evolution of this……. he said he expected it would turn darker in the raised area, even almost black, the skin would to slough off a bit and ultimately I would have a little crater once it was all healed – and this could take a few weeks. He said that with spider bites there isn’t a whole lot one can do beyond what I noted above herein. (disclaimer: I’m sure he was referring to what I had versus a black widow or other ultra venomous spiders). I just have to allow it to run its course, which it is. In the meantime I’m dealing with the pain and aggravation of not being very mobile. Not sure what else can be done by a Doctor at this point – I have antibiotics and am now current on my tetanus shot so I’m glad I at least did that. I just need to be closely watching my foot, continue to keep a record of progression by taking pictures and should I grow concerned about any dramatic changes seek medical attention again. Better safe than sorry, regardless of the cost.
3/11 – Dede from GA again. Back for an update. I elected to go to the ER today to get the area cultured. It simply was not improving. The foot was still swollen, the redness around the sore was growing larger, and the sore itself was not improving. I was having a real problem walking on that foot at all last night. I also needed the peace of mind that I was doing everything possible to take care of this. Peace of mind is priceless. Worry costs a lot.
They did take a culture. It will take a few days to get the results. They did not cut or lance it at all. I applied very gentle pressure at the base of the raised area and they took the culture from that. As a precaution they also gave me a heavy duty antibiotic through an IV. That’s in addition to the 2 oral antibiotics I’m already taking, which they said to continue taking. With a medical marker they drew a circle around the outer perimeter of the reddened area to gauge it when I return in a few days.
Tonight the sore is oozing and morphing into expected ugliness. I can see that it’s opening up now in the middle. My foot is still puffy from the retention of fluids, which is a normal bodily function when fighting such a thing. The puffiness/swelling isn’t from the spider bite; it’s from your body fighting against it.
TIPS: If you are elevating a limb ease it down slowly, like very slow over the span of minutes. The faster you bring it down the faster blood rushes back in and there is pain associated with that. Be patient or prepare for the pain of the rushing blood flow.
I’m not poking any more holes in the sore now, there’s no need. The original pokes I made stayed and “stuff” has oozed from them since. I’m not apply pressure to milk out anything either. It didn’t help. Initially I thought it might ease the pressure and tightness but what happened was soreness where I applied pressure and whatever oozed out was replenished soon after. At the ER they did not open or drain anything.
I am taking 800mg Ibuprofen every 6 hours (that’s 4 tablets at 200mg each). They offered morphine at the hospital but the reality is that on a scale of 1-10 I was only at a 3 at the time. The real pain comes when I bring my foot down from elevating it or there is pressure on the topside. When that happens the pain goes to about a 6 or 7 but doesn’t last beyond a few minutes. No need for morphine. I still have some throbbing and occasional stinging but both are subsiding, slowly.
I’m using Polysporin ointment with a gauze pad and 1 strip of tape. I was keeping a large foam adhesive bandage on it but I can’t quite take that much adhesive at this point (hurts when it comes off) and the gauze pad is better for leeching up the ooze, because it’s now doing a lot of that.
Upon my return from the ER I’ve noticed that the reddened area around the sore is looking better, as you will see from the picture. The sore itself is looking nastier though. That’s because it’s now starting to open in the middle, which I expected and is a natural course of action with such a thing.
NOTE OF CONCERN: They did advise at the ER to be very concerned and rush back should I notice any dark lines (veins) leading up my leg from the area – towards my heart. That’s bad stuff and is deemed an emergency. In my case I have no such problem, thankfully.
After my follow-up visit with the Doctors in a few days I’ll post an update with current pictures.
As a strong reminder, if you are reading this because you are concerned about a spider bite and not sure if you should go to a Doctor or not, regardless of your reasons, DO IT. If it doesn’t get better by the following day then GO. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Take pictures also as a form of documenting the progression. If you don’t have a digital camera then use your cell phone; most all cell phones have the ability to take pictures these days. Make sure to note somehow the date and time of each picture for proper reference.
3/17 – DEDE FROM GA UPDATE: Picking up from where I had left off, I returned to the ER on 03/12 for a wound check and the culture results. The results of the culture only showed that I had a mild staph infection. The doctor I saw told me that wound could have been an insect bite (including but not limited to a spider) or anything for that matter and an infection soon followed. He stated that what most people think are horrible sores/wounds from an insect bite is really a staph infection that probably started as a bite but evolved into a nasty sore due to the introduction of staph. It can happen to anyone regardless of circumstances, immune system health and/or personal hygiene. He proceeded to open and drain? the wound, which was very necessary at that point. I was given multiple shots of Lidocaine in the affected area to numb it. Lidocaine shots initially feel much like yellow jacket stings, but the pain is brief. Then he cut open the wound and cleaned it out and cut off the dead tissue. Yes, it hurt. After he cleaned it up I was told the following:
- Keep it elevated as much as possible for the rest of that day.
- I could resume normal daily functions.
- When sitting try to elevate the foot, if possible.
- Clean the wound site 2-3 times per day.
- Keep the wound site dry and covered at all times.
- Use Bactroban (for the nose) in each nostril in the AM and PM (prescription).
- Back onto the initial antibiotic I was given for 7 days, instead this time I get 10 days worth (Bactrim aka Sulfamethoxazole). Stop taking the 2nd oral antibiotic (Keflax aka Cephalexin), which was of no aid for what I had.
- Because 4 Ibuprofen wasn’t doing much for me I got a prescription for pain meds (mild).
- No need to put anything on it, like Polysporin, Neosporin, etc. Nothing more but washing it, per the Doc.
- Expect it to take a few weeks to fully heal.
The wound is indeed healing. The swelling on my foot is completely gone. That started to go down that day. I don’t need any pain meds or Ibuprofen at all, no pain anymore. I am keeping it clean by washing it with Hibiclens (in a light blue and white bottle, in most drugs stores by the iodine). I use a gauze pad to smack the Hibiclens into the wound (rubbing isn’t a great feeling there yet). I rinse with water then rinse with Saline solution last (get the cheap store brand for contacts, works the same as the expensive stuff you find in the wound care section). After I shower I rinse it with Saline also. Found a new ointment specifically for Staph and started applying a little of that today. I will do that once a day only. When I go out I have an extra roomy sock I put on over the dressing and I have a slipper that has Velcro straps so I can control the pressure over the wound site. It’s no fashion statement but it works. At home I walk around with only the dressing over the wound. I use a non-stick gauze pad and another larger standard gauze pad over that, tapped down. Keeping it covered and clean is very important for the healing. Although the wound is getting better slowly it still has some discharge visible on the gauze when I change the dressing. I was told I’ll need to see an Infectious Disease doctor if this doesn’t get better OR comes back. Staph can come back. Here are recent pictures:
I did everything right and thankfully caught it before it got out of hand or became anything like some of those ultra horrifying pictures you see online. Yeah, it got gross and it hurt a lot but it could have been way worse. If you have anything like what I’ve described or seen in the posted pictures you NEED to see a DOCTOR ASAP and for your own sake don’t procrastinate or make excuses, like no insurance. It is probable that whatever began as a bite became a staph infection and is quite serious. The doctor said that the pictures one sees online of nasty spider bites are usually always pictures of staph infections that very well could have started as a spider bite. Know this, I am a very healthy person, no medical issues, rarely get sick and if I do it’s over quick, I don’t need or take prescription meds of any kind (exception being the antibiotics now) and with all that I still got a staph infection.
To those here wondering what bit me (meaning you), from what I’ve seen online there isn’t any way to know for sure what bit you unless you have the insect/spider that did it. Describing it isn’t going to help, how your body reacts to a bite differs from person to person. If your bite is getting worse (painful, red area getting larger, swelling, red lines going in any direction but major red flag if the lines are leading towards your heart, etc.) seek medical attention right away. If you elect not to then you are a fool asking for trouble and the cost of what can happen will greatly out weigh the out of pocket cost for seeking medical attention. Better safe than sorry. It may even require a few trips to the doctor. My bite changed daily but I stayed on top of it, took pics to show the docs the progress, and after 4 trips in 1.5 weeks to the docs it’s getting better.
Thank You Dede!
It is people like Dede who make the world a better place! Thank you for taking the time to document your experience and sharing it with the rest of the world!