Staph Infection from Spider Bite
Did you know most bites are 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!
Below is Dede’s well-documented story, and I am sure it will help those looking for answers! An important takeaway is that Dede did something the doctors advised her not to do, which is poke holes to elevate the swelling while applying slight pressure to help get the infection out – in the end, it didn’t help and made matters worse!
Spider Bite on Foot – Never Felt a Thing!
3/9 – I got a bite on the top of my foot last Saturday. Never felt a thing. Noticed, though, what looked like a pimple.
Sunday, my foot was throbbing with pain. The bump area developed redness around it. Knowing one doesn’t get pimples on one’s foot, I knew it was a spider bite.
Monday, it was still throbbing, and now the topside of my whole foot was pink. Tuesday, I went to the doctor. The symptoms of redness and pain indicated 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 concerned enough about the symptoms or progression, enough to look it up online, should seek medical attention and at least get antibiotics and a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the last 10 years.
Have you yet to see the pictures of what can ultimately develop? I’m not much of a gambler, and I value my flesh and life. My flesh and life are all worth the costs of seeing a Doctor over something that could go very bad.
Back to the doctor’s 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), and 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 – I 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 was a slight improvement. I even tried a drawing salve, but that only enhanced the bump forming under the bite and didn’t do much else. I occasionally experience some stinging in the area, but it only lasts for a few seconds.
I went back to the doctor on Friday because there hadn’t been any improvement, and it continued to ache. The bump under the skin had grown a little as well. The doctor did a little nick on the bump, but nothing came out.
He concurred that the drawing salve was useless (I asked). He advised that he didn’t feel it was a brown recluse bite, but here in GA, plenty of nasty cousins could have been the culprit.
(I never saw any spider and never knew it happened. It happened from the location as I was slipping my foot into a shoe. As I was probably about to squish the spider, it elected to zap me a good one on its way out of this life; at least, that’s how I envision it.)
Doctor Prescribes Anitbiotic for Bite
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. He prescribed another second antibiotic to help cover all the bases since the bite wasn’t improving.
Yesterday I awoke and noticed that the bite area/bump developed into 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 giant spider with a very wide fang spread.
Later the same day, two more white dots were a little closer together, just below the others. It was just two points where whatever was brewing under my skin wanted to peak out. I did sanitize a needle, poked each, and gently (because any pressure is excruciating at this point) applied pressure from the outside of the reddened raised area.
From what I’ve been reading, I did not squeeze, nor should anyone, and, you should talk to your doctor before lancing a wound! What started as pus (very loose), followed by some blood and plasma (clear). And yes, doing that created a lot of pain under the skin.
The actual top skin of the raised bump is somewhat 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 (I could not sleep due to a throbbing foot), and earlier this morning.
The first two times, much yuck oozed 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 poked it (finger indent stays for a few seconds after taking a finger away).
Staph Infection has my leg swollen.
This morning my foot was exactly the same, even though I slept with it elevated all night. It’s not super puffy, but I can easily see the difference when looking at it compared to my other foot.
Today is Sunday, one week and a day after the initial bite. Today I have been elevating it more than any day prior and applying an ice pack. I take Ibuprofen (2-3 capsules) every 4 hours.
I applied some baking soda paste (w/water) and covered it. Why? Because someone wrote here about that, and I’ll attempt things that seem logical to me, and this did.
I am freaked out at the thought of the top of my foot looking anything like some of these pictures with gaping wounds. 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 slough off a bit, and ultimately, I would have a little crater once it was all healed – which could take a few weeks.
He said that with spider bites, there is little one can do beyond what I noted above. (Disclaimer: I’m sure he was referring to what I had versus a black widow or other ultra-venomous spiders). I 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 need to closely watch my foot, record 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.
Update on Staph Infection
3/11 – Dede from GA again. Back for an update. I elected to go to the ER today to get the area cultured. It was not improving. The foot was still swollen, the redness around the sore grew larger, and the sore was not improving.
I was having a real problem walking on that foot last night. I also needed the peace of mind that I was doing everything possible to handle this. Peace of mind is priceless. Worrying 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.
Drew a Circle around the Spider Bite
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 returned in a few days.
Tonight, the sore is oozing and morphing into expected ugliness. 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 but your body fighting against it.
TIPS: If you are elevating a limb, ease it down slowly, like very slow, over minutes. The faster you bring it down, the faster blood rushes back in; pain is 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. I’m not applying pressure to milk out anything, either. The original pokes I made stayed, and “stuff” has oozed from them since. It didn’t help.
Initially, I thought it might ease the pressure and tightness, but what happened was soreness when I applied pressure, and whatever oozed out was replenished soon after. At the ER, they did not open or drain anything.
I take 800mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours (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 kept a large foam adhesive bandage on it. Still, I can’t quite take that much adhesive at this point (it 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 noticed that the reddened area around the sore was 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.
Dark likes from wound toward Heart – Doctors said Go to the ER!
NOTE OF CONCERN: They did advise 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 unsure if you should go to a doctor, 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, use your cell phone; most all cell phones can take pictures now. Make sure to note 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 the wound could have been an insect bite (including but not limited to a spider), and an infection soon followed.
He stated that what most people think are horrible sores/wounds from an insect bite are really staph infections 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 like yellow jacket stings, but the pain is brief. Then he cut the wound open, 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 the AM and PM (prescription) in each nostril.
- Back onto the initial antibiotic I was given for 7 days; instead, this time, I got 10 days’ worth (Bactrim aka Sulfamethoxazole). Stop taking the 2nd oral antibiotic (Keflax aka Cephalexin), which was 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 drug 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, it 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 a slipper with 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. Keeping it covered and clean is very important for healing. I use a non-stick gauze pad and another larger standard gauze pad over that, tapped down.
Although the wound is improving 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 Infection 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 hurt a lot, but it could have been way worse.
Suppose you have anything like what I’ve described or seen in the posted pictures. What began as a bite probably became a staph infection and is quite severe. In that case, you NEED to see a DOCTOR ASAP, and for your own sake, don’t procrastinate or make excuses like no insurance.
The doctor said that the pictures one sees online of nasty spider bites are usually pictures of staph infections that could have started as a spider bite.
Know this, I am a very healthy person with 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 (the 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 what bit you unless you have the insect/spider that did it. Describing it isn’t help; how your body reacts to a bite differs from person to person, but confident it was a spider.
If your bite worsens (painful, red area getting larger, swelling, red lines going in any direction but significant red flag if the lines are leading towards your heart, etc.), seek medical attention immediately.
Better safe than sorry. If you elect not to, you are a fool asking for trouble. The cost of what can happen will significantly outweigh the out-of-pocket cost of seeking medical attention.
It may even require a few trips to the doctor. My bite changed daily, but I stayed on top of it and took pics to show the docs the progress, and after 4 trips in 1.5 weeks, the docs say 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 share it with everyone!