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Photo sequence from a spider bite to 7 years later a squamous cell carcinoma electrodesiccation, curettage removal, and photos through 4 months later.

This post is created from reposts from Sept 5, 2010May 21, 2016, and September 18, 2016, with some new material added.


I caught a spider in my bathroom in El Cerrito, California, on September 5, 2010, and it looks like a recluse type. It may not be the right spider but I haven’t seen another one in my house for over a year so it’s probably the right one. However, the internet spider authorities claim there are no Brown Recluse spiders in the San Francisco Bay Area. Those are the truly dangerous spiders and they are mostly within a couple hundred miles of the lower Mississippi River. Even there they are uncommon. However, there are other types of recluse-like spiders and they may have a similar type of venom, just not so much of it or at least not quite so nasty.

This spider was living in my home in El Cerrito, California

This spider is now living in my home in El Cerrito, California, inside a clear plastic box.

The official Brown Recluse Spider has a violin shape on its back between the shoulders which my spider apparently does not.

A dangerous spider

An internet photo of a brown recluse spider. It is a little different from my spider but not much.

However, to be sure I took another photo and did a PhotoShop enhancement of the whole picture to make the color and contrast more vivid. That makes the spider’s thorax more visible.

A Recluse-Spider but not a Brown-Recluse

A Recluse-Spider but not a Brown-Recluse because there is no violin on the thorax, but there is a similar design if you look closely.

For more comparisons look at the online photos linked to below but proceed with caution because there are some are really ugly ones, much worse than my photos below which are bad enough – really ugly online spider bite photos

spider bite

My spider-bite 8/20/2010; this first photo of my right leg shin was about four days after the bite.

This photo was taken about four days after what my dermatologist thought was a spider bite. I didn’t get an appointment to see her for another week after this picture was taken. However, at the time I did see her I didn’t have the spider anymore because I set it out in the garden, only a somewhat improving wound. It was a bit better than the photo above but not much.


Spider bites can be fun to watch.

Five days ago a rash on my right leg became interesting enough to take a photo of it. Too bad there wasn’t an earlier picture so there would be a better progression of this series. I called my dermatologist but that appointment isn’t for another six days so I went into the VA drop-in clinic yesterday and saw a GP. I should have spent some more time searching this on the web because it would have been helpful for a non-specialist doctor to have some informed suggestions. Being a young doctor he may never have seen a spider bite before. I found this one after looking for quite a while.

Spider bite

This spider-bite looked a lot like mine.

He didn’t think I had an infection and since it didn’t itch there was little likelihood it was poison oak. It did look like poison oak at first because there had been a little blistering when I first noticed it, but there was more of a mild burning sensation and only a little itching. So, I ignored it with the expectation that it would go away in a couple of days. No such luck, it just got worse and I was still in the stage of denial that anything was wrong. Finally, I took this picture.

spider bite

Spider bite 8/20/2010 the first photo about 4 days after the bite.

When I first noticed this it looked very similar to poison oak so in an attempt to rinse away the poison I daubed my finger tip in some Tide detergent and gently rubbed it on for about ten seconds and then thoroughly rinsed if off. I did that two times a day for two days but stopped when it didn’t appear to be helping. I suspect the detergent is what caused the skin to peel, although since it did peel around the red areas, it was having some specific effect.

spider bite plus six days

8/22 Spider bite about 2 days after the first photograph with Tide-caused peeling of skin.

As ugly as this looks it didn’t itch, like Poison Oak, and it didn’t hurt like an open wound and although it was red it didn’t feel warm to the touch like it was fevered with an infection. There was a mild burning sensation better described as warmth which was easily ignored.

Spider bite with long tendrils

8/24 Spider bite two days later has developed long tendrils and isolated patches.

Spider bite

8/25 Spider bite the next day has developed a tiny dark grey spot at the center.

After searching the web for skin rashes and finding the photo at the top it became apparent that this was a spider bite. After a google search of spider bite treatment, I found Spider & Bug Bites Treatment Self Help Guide. This site and others like it are what make the web wonderful. It gives visual images of various insect bites followed by the typical symptoms with a seven question diagnosis chart followed with short descriptions which help to determine the source of the bite and then a clear and simple procedure for coping with the problem. Now with a clear diagnosis of the problem it becomes easier to find personal experiences on the web and develop a reasonable coping strategy.

Wikipedia has a good article on Spider Bites.

Although this bite looks bad, it appears that the best treatment is to clean the wound as early as possible with soap and water, which I did, and then an application of iodine or some similar disinfectant, which I didn’t, and then as the ugliness develops just keep it as clean as possible, which I have done, and then to avoid spiders in the future, which I most certainly will do.

Perhaps it was while picking wild blackberries that I encountered my little friend and if I had avoided threatening him by squeezing him against my leg with my pants, where he was just visiting, he probably wouldn’t have bothered me.

Saying nice things about Mother Nature isn’t as effective as playing by her rules.


[Update 2010-09-13] This non-Brown-Recluse spider has been professionally identified as Theridiidae Steatoda grossa which has a medically significant spider bite. If this non-brown recluse spider caused the nasty wound seen above it becomes imperative to avoid the really nasty ones.



Six years later it appears I have a squamous cell carcinoma.

The squamous cell carcinoma on my right shin looked like this before the surgery. [The photos were added to the original post on the dates noted.]

Diagnosis of possible squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma February 10, 2016 , when I first showed it to the VA doctors.

Below is the first photo taken of my right shin 20 hours after the surgery.

Electrodessication and curettage

May 8, 2016, 20 hours after electrodesiccation and curettage.

The curettage cut marks are clearly visible as stripes across the wound area. Around the wound are needle marks where the numbing agents were injected. These pinpricks were the only pain I felt before, during and for the weeks after the operation.

Squamous Cell Carcinoam surgery

Squamous Cell Carcinoma May 12, 2016, 5 days after the surgery.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma on May 18, 12 days after the surgery.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma 14 days after operation

Squamous Cell Carcinoma May 20, 2016, 2 weeks after surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma 3 weeks after surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma May 27, 2016, 3 weeks after surgery.

These photos make this procedure look a lot worse than it felt. The only discomfort I have felt is in bed when my legs happen to get crossed over the wound. The wound is slow to heal, but the doctors were confident that there would be no trouble, because this type of carcinoma is confined to the surface of the skin, and all of that has been removed.

I have been cleaning the wound every day as instructed. Immediately after removing the old bandage I get into the shower, which has been preheated to mouth temperature, and soap the wound and rub it gently with my palm for a few seconds, and then rinse and repeat three times. After stepping out of the shower, within seconds, even before drying anywhere, I smoothly smear a pea size glob of petroleum jelly over the whole wound and immediately put a bandage over the mess. Then I towel dry the rest of my body.

That procedure is intended to prevent infection because everything is kept very clean, and the natural body moisture beneath the petroleum jelly is ideal for healing. When using this procedure a scab doesn’t form because the healing skin is kept moist, and the doctors told me the new flesh forms more smoothly.

The doctors say that squamous cell carcinoma is the least dangerous form of cancer; all the same, it is probably best to have it removed before it grows larger.


Here below is new material, two 1/2 months later.

Squamous cell carcinoma July 12, 2016, 2 1/2 months after surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma July 12, 2016, 2 1/2 months after surgery.

The surgery site still looks discolored, but the skin is now smooth with only a small lump where the flesh was removed. That lump seems to be receding each day. I have been bathing the site every day and instantly covering it with Vaseline mineral oil and then bandaging it with non-stick bandages.


Today for the first time, I didn’t put the non-stick bandage on, but after smearing the petroleum jelly on I put an adhesive bandage directly over the wound.  It has never become infected, and there has never been any pain. There have developed some swollen red streaks outside of the bandage which haven’t gone away. I put various things on these streaks for several days: antibiotic ointment, Tinactin antifungal cream, A+D anti-inflammation cream, but nothing seemed to make any difference. However, they seem to be going away.

A friend of mine had major facial surgery two weeks after my surgery, but they used modern micro-stitching techniques for putting his face back together. The next few days he was very bruised-looking but a week later looked normal and now it is impossible to see anything abnormal. He says he still has some tight feeling in the skin and some pain, but those problems are soothed with pills.

I wouldn’t hesitate to go through this electrodesiccation, curettage procedure again to remove even a benign carcinoma, but one must be ready for about ten minutes of fussing around every day for a couple of months with the clean up and re-bandaging of the wound.

With medical problems just get good advice and do the right things.


Four months of healing after cancer removal.

Squamous cell carcinoma four months after removal from my shin by electrodesiccation, curettage.

Four months after the cancer was removed from my shin by electrodesiccation, curettage the skin is still discolored but it is smooth, strong and can be ignored.

If ever I do a similar procedure again I will insist the doctors swab down the area around the surgery with antiseptics to kill any bacteria transferring from their bodies. These doctors are dermatologists and they are exposed to all sorts of skin diseases, and no matter how clean they are there will be microbes lurking around them. On getting home I will take off my clothes, toss them in the washing machine and take a shower to totally clean my body of hospital bacteria. After the shower, I will put on totally clean clothes. The next day, after my external biota has returned to normal, from sleeping in my own bed and living in my own house, I will rub my hands on the sides of my stomach and then all around the surgery area. That will transfer my natural biota to the area that has been traumatized.

Help your skin protect the inner you from the assaults of the world.

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