Spider bites are a rare phenomenon, but you wouldn’t know by the frequency with which they are (mis)diagnosed. Blaming a spider (or insect) for a mysterious wound can be a dangerous mistake.
What Bit Me?!
Unless you saw something bite you, the answer is usually “nothing.” What are the other possibilities? Here are a few:
- MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous, rapidly-progressing bacterial infection that can be wrongly interpreted as a spider bite. There are over 50 causes of necrotic wounds other than the Brown Recluse.
- Fungal infection – Sporotrichosis or aspergillosus. Another “recluse bite” mimic.
- Ingrown hairs – folliculitis is a surprisingly common “cause” of spider bites.
- Food allergies – Food allergies may present bite-like skin lesions.
- Reaction to medications – Sometimes the “cure” can cause its own problems.
- Hives – Papular urticaria manifests as red, itchy bumps. They may be triggered by a variety of environmental stimuli, including insect bites, especially in children.
The bottom line: Make sure your physician or pediatrician screens for causal agents other than spiders or insects in the absence of a suspect. Take the spider (or insect) specimen with you to the doctor if it was observed biting the patient.
Avoiding Spider (and Insect) Bites
Take basic precautions to lessen the risk of bites from insects and spiders.
- Apply DEET-based repellents like Ben’s®
30 Tick & Insect Repellent Eco-Spray® (6 oz.). Reapply as directed (follow instructions to the letter for safety’s sake).
- Do not reach your extremities into places you cannot see, like holes, crevices.
- Do not leave clothing, hats, gloves, footwear, or toys outdoors overnight.
- Take care in removing boxes and objects from long-term storage, sheds, etc.
- Carefully inspect firewood, plants, and other objects before bringing them indoors from outside.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin-based substances like Ben’s® Clothing and Gear 6 oz. continuous spray when outdoors.
- Do not handle spiders or insects, and instruct your children not to, either.
- Apply a soothing bug bite treatment like After Bite (www.AfterBite.com) if you do get bit, or try The Itch Eraser (www.TheItchEraser.com) if you have additional skin irritants or rashes.