Here’s the run down on my spider bite in Thailand.

Day 0 (Wed May 22nd): Didn’t actually notice the bite happen if I did I thought it was one of many mosquito bites.
Day 1 (Thur): I notice it but assume it was just a mosquito bite or maybe small jellyfish sting. It’s a little bigger and itchier than a normal mosquito bite, but not much.  I spend the day on a boat and motor scooter going from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui.
Day 2 (Fri): I notice some slight swelling and it’s a little sore. I’m also tired & have a slight fever but am not sure if that’s just from the prior day’s travel or from the bite. I feel like I’ve been in the sun way too much the last few days.  Per my plan, I hope on my scooter, ride to the airport and fly from Samui to Bangkok. I arrive at my nice little air conditioned hotel room mid-day.  I’m exhausted at this point, mild fever and headache.  I lie down and rest rather than my planned shopping excursion.  I end up sleeping ALL afternoon and through the night although I periodically wake to watch movies on Satellite TV. Regardless I literally spent 24 hours lying in bed resting.
Day 3 (Sat): Awake feeling WAY better, I figure I’m through whatever it was and spend the day walking around little India shopping for curtains for the new house. By the end of the day, my foot is seriously swollen though.  It’s still not really painful, but it’s looking nasty, it’s starting to ooze a little.
Day 4 (Sun): Not much change, but I decide to wisely avoid walking much.  The result is much less swelling but little change otherwise.
Day 5 (Mon AM): The wound is ever so slightly bigger, it is still oozing a tiny bit and the swelling is unchanged.  The more I walk or don’t elevate it, the worse it is.  So I decide to head to the doctor to get it checked out.  I thought about going to Bumrungrad Hospital or Bangkok Hospital (both of which are big world class private hospitals in Bangkok that cater heavily to medical tourists and foreigners), but for something this simple I have no problem with Sukhumvit Hospital which happens to be a 5min walk from where I’m staying and is still one of the best Hospitals in Bangkok if not quite the class of BMG and BH


My visit to Sukhumvit Hospital involves:

  1. Filling out a single page form at reception. (no waiting and <5 min.  It only took that long because I needed to look up addresses for “Person to Notify”.
  2. The staff kindly walks me from reception to ER where I wait <2 min. to see an ER doctor. He proceeds to instruct and observe his 3 helpers in thoroughly clean my wound with 3 different solutions and then scrape some of the dead tissue away. They are very gentle and there is no pain.  The doctor then tells me there is a little infection, it’s not bad, just minor.  Since I’m traveling he’s going to prescribe oral antibiotics (Amoxicillin) and a topical antibiotic (Sodium Fusidate).  He tells me to keep it clean and bandaged and much like my dentist in Chiang Mai he tells me what seems like 10 times that it’s important to take ALL the antibiotics, not to stop early. Total time with the doctor and his 3 helpers, about 10 min.
  3. I’m walked by a nurse down the hall to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions. I wait about 2 min and pay my bill while waiting for my prescriptions to be ready.
  4. I walk out.

Total time at the hospital, including time to pick up my prescriptions from the pharmacy, was about 20 min.

Total cost including my prescriptions: 1730THB (about $60 at today’s awful USD to THB exchange rate). So cheap I didn’t bother claiming it on my travel insurance.

Reviewing the week

Still not too worried about it, but I’m happy I got it checked out.  I’m mostly glad I got on antibiotics early before the infection got worse. It might of gone away, but it might not of and taking care of it in 3 days back in the US would have been a huge hassle. Everything is just so easy here. I mean this was pretty difficult “as things go”, find a hospital, get myself to it, deal with potential language issues etc… but in Thailand it STILL ends up easier (and cheaper) than in the US. I spend a lot of time thinking about where I’d really want to live in Asia and Thailand has long been at the top of that list for all these reasons and more. Someday…


  1. Thai hospitals are the best!!! It’s amazing how fast you’re in and out and how great the care is. America could learn a lot from the Thai system ~ so wonderfully affordable. If I ever break my ankle…I’m hopping to the plane! Hope you recover quickly and are back to 100% soon 🙂

    • Totally agree! A few years ago a french canadian friend tore her ACL in northern Thailand and decided to have surgery at Ram Hospital in Chiang Mai. It is a surgery I’ve had twice in the US and I stayed with her through the whole thing. The care was mind bogglingly good. For one, the doctors spoke better english then she did, as did most of the nurses and physical therapists. She had more doctors, nurses and physical therapists tending to here then I could count. She had a semi-private room that was effective private (other bed kept empty) with a view of the city and a couch for us all the site on when we visited (often). She stayed 3-4 days so they could observe her and make sure he physical therapy was started properly as it’s SUPER important to avoid scar tissue build up. My 1st surgery was a 6 hour hospital stay, my second was at an outpatient clinic and even shorter. Both times it took days to see a physical therapist and start recovery work and was a pain to get to and from since I could barely drive…

      I agree, anything major I’m hoping on a plane back to Thailand if I’m able.

      • It is always good to be reminded there are other ways. I remember your surgery and reminding myself why I am a social worker not a nurse! And that lovely machine you had!
        Glad you are all fixed up!

  2. Interesting story ! Did the doc have any idea what might have sunk its fangs into you ?

    • He seemed to agree with my analysis that it was a spider. There is really no way to know what kind or even that it was absolutely a spider. The wound is way bigger than any stinger/bite mark to look at as evidence. People’s reaction to the toxins are hugely variable as well since how much venom actually gets injected varies as are individual biologies, so the severity isn’t by itself an great indicator. That’s why I say it’s likely a Brown spider (more tissue damaging, less painful — necrotoxin) than a Widow Spider (more pain, less tissue damage — neurotoxin). From the doctors perspective it doesn’t much matter, he’s just treating a small infected wound. There are some anti-venoms for spiders, more for widows than brown, but some people have very bad reactions to them and from what I’ve read they’re rarely used.

  3. amblerlin says

    Yowsa! I woulda been at the hospital on Day 2. The Day 5 photo gives me heebie jeebies

    • I sweat the Day 3 & 5 photos make it look worse than it is. I’m guessing I’ll be able to update this in a few days with even nastier looking photos… I hoping that doesn’t happen, but that’s honestly what I expect.

  4. Sounds like you had excellent medical treatment! See you soon I here 🙂

  5. Good story. You’ve got a new subscriber. I look forward to future posts.

  6. I have the same looking bite on my foot. but only noticed it once i was on the plane home to canada. should i get this treated right away? still not in canada yet.

    • Hey Alex! Thanks reading! While I’m humbled you want my opinion on your medical condition I’d certainly recommend showing it to an actual medical professional and asking them their opinion 😉

      As I said above, “mostly glad I got on antibiotics early before the infection got worse”. If your wound is infected then that can spread quickly and in a very bad way especially in the tropics. So getting it cleaned up and on antibiotics sooner rather than later is definitely the way to go. Good luck!

  7. Do you know which antibiotics they put you on? I am in Koh Tao and I have a similar looking swollen area on my skin and similar story. I went to the doctor yesterday and they put me on antibiotics but since then my entire leg from my knee down is now swollen. I just want to make sure they gave me the right drugs.

    • Hey other Alex (what’s with all the Alex’s). If I recall correctly it was just amoxicillin, but he was also very clear to see a doctor right away if if got any worse, which it didn’t, mine started getting better the next day.

      It sounds common that people get sepsis from not getting these treated right away, I’d get back to the doctor ASAP.

  8. Did you happen to get a slight rash anywhere on your body as well? Nothing too alarming and almost looks like red/purple blotches? My bite looks similar and your day to day follow up seems exactly like mine. However my bite is on my behind… So what looks like a slight rash may very easily be just from sitting scooters daily as well…. Not too worried but certainly keeping watch for any other signs. I assumed my 24 hours of sickness was just food poisoning at first, as I have had a similar bite from back home in the same spot. My doctor sent me abroad with a double prescription of amoxicillin but I haven’t jumped to take it just yet as I don’t take well to antibiotics and it really isn’t that bad. The only downfall is it is on my bum & directly on my butt bone so when I sit I do feel it more than I should. It is more “painful” than it is itchy… It’s actually not even itchy at all.
    I’ve already spent enough time in the hospital here as I had to get stitches and would prefer to not deal with my insurance if I can. I have great travel insurance I just hate contacting them. When it comes to medical knowledge I would say I am more advanced in the field than most and from my evaluation I believe I’ve had a lot worst. Just being in a tropical area with many weeks left in my trip makes me pre-cautious in case it does get worse.

    • Ah, this one’s easy. Go to the doctor!

      You probably already have a systemic infection, if it gets worse you going to end up being hospitalized with IV antibiotics for days or weeks…

      I just had a friend get to spend an extra couple weeks in Bali because she cut her leg surfing… the extra couple weeks were in the hospital on IV antibiotics and was unable to travel home on schedule.

Speak Your Mind