Yesterday, I was opening the back screen door of my home when I felt a sudden, sharp and stinging sensation on the outside of my right index finger (maybe halfway between the nail and the first knuckle). I ran into the house and stuck my finger (still stinging) under cold running water. It continued to sting for maybe 2 minutes, and during that time, the whole finger was swelling before my eyes to about 1.5 times its usual size.
I assumed I had been bitten by a spider, since the incident occurred while sticking my hand into a recessed area (underside of door handle) outdoors, so I headed to the ER (checking, on the way out the door, to see if I could find a spider in the door handle (I could not).
I told the ER receptionist I thought Iâd been bitten by a spider. The doctor came in, didnât ask me anything about the circumstances, and diagnosed it as a staph infection of my nail bed. I said, âCan a spider bite cause that?â He gave me a short lecture on how dirty our nail beds are, and how any break in the skin can cause a staph infection. He added, âLooks like you caught it early,â to which I replied, âYes, it happened about 15 minutes ago.â He seemed to smirk at that answer.
He prescribed a topical ointment. I kept asking puzzled questions like, âWould this type of infection start so suddenly and painfully and progress so rapidly?â but he gave very dismissive answers.
I did not fill the prescription. The swelling went down over a period of 2-3 hours until the finger was almost normal again (just a very little residual swelling that did not affect use of the finger any more.) This morning, the finger looks very slightly reddened in the location of yesterdayâs intense pain, but otherwise normal.
I read on the Internet that many people think they have been bit by a spider, but it is frequently a staph infection instead. So I understand why the doctor came to the quick conclusion that he did. But it still seems to me like he was wrong and that it must have been some sort of insect bite or sting.