The Kid's Doctor: Spider Bite or MRSA?
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Many supposed insect bites are instead due to a MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus) bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissue. CREDIT: Fotolia.com.

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
Tribune Media Services
www.kidsdr.com

While walking down the hallway in my office, I kept hearing patients expressing concern about a "spider bite." But how many spiders could there be out there, I wondered, especially in early spring? Also, these "spider bites" seemed to occur in weird places - a baby's bottom, the inner thigh, the palm of the hand. In most cases, a patient never saw the offending spider.

As it turns out, spiders are being maligned when, in fact, they have nothing to do with these random skin lesions. Such "bites" are often due to a MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus) bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissue. With the frequency of such infections rising, parents should be aware of the fact that an unusual "bite" that's becoming more tender, has surrounding redness (erythema), feels warm to the touch and has the appearance of a large pimple or boil, needs to be examined.

In some cases I've seen, a parent has tried to open the lesion with a needle. DO NOT use needles, pins, your fingernails, or anything else to open such sores. As I tell older kids, "If your mom or dad comes at you with a needle, run, Toto, run!"

Once a "spider bite" has been correctly diagnosed as a MRSA infection, it's appropriate to try and drain some of the purulent discharge for a culture. Usually, this is easily done in a pediatrician's office. With test results in hand, the correct diagnosis can be made, and an antibiotic can be prescribed to treat community-acquired MRSA.

For larger lesions, it's appropriate to drain them, and this should be done under sterile conditions (no home needles). There are certain times a pediatric surgeon may need to drain these larger lesions.

Numerous journal articles have been published debating the pros and cons of drainage vs. antibiotic use. In most cases in my office, we culture the discharge and prescribe an oral antibiotic. Some articles advocate drainage only, without the use of antibiotics. There is not a definitive opinion on this and I'd defer to your doctor to decide on the appropriate individual treatment.

So ... if you think the spiders have invaded your home, think MRSA instead.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at www.kidsdr.com.

(C) 2011, KIDSDR.COM

This was printed in the June 19, 11 - July 2, 11 Edition
 

 

Would you like to e-mail us?  Have a press release or story idea?  Questions about obituaries?  Send us your questions and comments to:

rinarisper.tncp@gmail.com

 
 

 

Click here for regular advertising rates!!!

 Check out TNCP's Birthday Advertising!!!!

Custom-embroidered logo shirts and apparel by Queensboro

Support our advertisers. Follow the link to their site:

Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau