Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is a spider bite a threat to my health?"
I have a spot on my leg that looks like a bite mark, most likely a spider because there is a red ring around it. Will this heal on its own or should I have it treated? Are there any health risks if I don't have it looked at?
Many insect bites are benign. Your body may get a local inflammatory response and sometimes a local infection results. But for the majority of the time, an insect bite does not cause major wound issues. Occasionally, some insect bites can cause a profound local immune response and infection. Some spiders do this, resulting in a dollar or quarter size area of soft tissue necrosis. It is believed that the bacteria carried by certain insects are the culprit. If your insect bite gets red, painful, fevers, chills, and is not getting any better, then you should go to your primary care physician. If you do not currently have a primary care provider, you should go to the emergency department. You will likely get some blood work as well as a wound culture to guide your antibiotic therapy. Of course, you may have to wait a little longer in the emergency department. In either case, when it is not getting better it should be assessed by a health care provider to determine if it requires drainage and antibiotics. If caught early, most superficial wound infections respond well to just antibiotics. However, if they are seen after an infection already started brewing that causes soft tissue necrosis, you then need an incision and drainage procedure in addition to a variable length of intravenous antibiotics. The time and money you spend early on will worth much more later. I would suggest a visit to a primary care physician to have it checked out.
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