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Spiders and Spider Bites: Wrongfully Accused!

There is a group in Florida that is frequently being accused of crimes that they did not commit. The group I am referring to is spiders. Not a gang that calls themselves the “spiders”, but actual spiders. Almost once a week I have a patient accuse a spider of causing their skin problem because they, or a friend of theirs, or even a physician told them that they probably have a “spider bite”.

When physicians diagnose a spider bite they usually mean a “brown recluse” spider bite. When the brown recluse spider bites you, the reaction is a red necrotic lesion. But in reality no species of recluse spiders are native to Florida, (see the distribution map).

Listen to an expert:
An arachnologist at University of California, Riverside Department of Entomology further makes the point: In the case of necrotic wounds, “brown recluse spider bite” is a very common conclusion of medical personnel throughout North America including such ludicrously inhospitable places as Canada and Alaska where no brown recluses have ever been found.

In a 6-year database for the 3 Florida poison control centers, 124 brown recluse spider bites were diagnosed by medical personnel in that state (and these are only those that were reported). In comparison, in 100 years of arachnological information, only 11 recluse spiders have been found in Florida and only 2 of these finds were in homes. IN OTHER WORDS, EACH MONTH THE NUMBER OF RECLUSE SPIDER BITES DIAGNOSED IN FLORIDA IS GREATER THAN THE NUMBER OF RECLUSE SPIDERS EVER FOUND IN FLORIDA.

(click here for the original reference

If not a spider bite, then what is it?
My experience is that almost every time someone thinks that they have a spider bite, the patient actually has a furuncle. A furuncle is an infection of the hair follicle. Some people call it a “boil”. It is usually a red swollen nodule. Sometimes it is hot and tender, sometimes it is filled with pus. The culprit is not a spider, but actually Staph Aureus; a common bacteria that infects the skin. The treatment consists of draining it in the office and then using warm compresses at home (no antibiotics needed – usually).

The Staff and Doctors at Minars Dermatology
phone: 954-987-7512

In This Issue
Listen to an expert:

If not a spider bite, then what is it?

Zyrtec is now Generic AND OTC

Zyrtec (cetirizine) is a second-generation anti- histamine (that means it is non-drowsy). In dermatology we use it to treat hives and itchiness, but it is most frequently prescribed to allergy sufferers.

In November the FDA approved the brand Zyrtec to be sold for the first time over the counter (without a prescription). Now the FDA has approved a generic version of the drug as well. Currently the branded Zyrtec costs about $2.50 per pill, the generic and the OTC versions will cost less than half of that price.


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