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Is it a Spider Bite or Staph Infection?

  • Category: Primary Care
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Tony Johnson, Primary Care
Is it a Spider Bite or Staph Infection?

Every year, thousands of people show up at urgent care clinics and emergency rooms with red, swollen and painful areas they believe are spider bites. More often than not, spiders are not to blame. Staph infection, specifically MRSA, can look very similar to a spider bite but requires a different course of treatment. So, how do you know which is which?

While spider bites and staph infections can both begin as red, swollen, painful areas on the skin, staph infections are more likely to be full of white or yellow pus. Staph infections are often warm to the touch and may be accompanied by a fever. Staph can infect anyone, but you’re more likely to have a staph infection if you’ve recently been hospitalized, if you participate in contact sports, or if you live in a communal space.

MRSA and other types of staph infections can be tricky to treat, so it’s important to contact your physician right away if you notice a spot that appears to be infected or is accompanied by a fever.

While MRSA is a common cause of spider-bite like wounds, sometimes a spider really is to blame for a red spot. Most spider bites are not serious and will heal on their own in a couple of days. But, if you notice blisters forming, a purple or blue ulcer near the bite site, if you’re having trouble breathing or are in extreme pain, see a physician right away. You may have been bitten by a venomous spider and need treatment.

Tony Johnson, II, MD
Family Medicine
Baton Rouge General Physicians - Primary Care Group
(225) 367-4558

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