Spider horror as gran rushed to A&E when leg turned solid after false widow bite

A gran claims a "sex-crazed" false widow spider sank its fangs into her after she mistakenly destroyed the web it made to attract a mate.

She claims the eight-legged male got its revenge because "it was really upset" she had wrecked his web – by sending her to A&E.

Paula Smith's encounter with the randy false widow saw her leg triple in size, turn rock solid to the touch with blisters the size of 10p pieces bubbling up across her skin.

The hairdresser had been walking her doberman Meadow in Tapton Park in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, last month (August 14).

She suspects she ruined the arachnid's web and believes it sought to retaliate.

Paula felt a tickling sensation on her right calf and saw the spider with a distinctive skull shape on its abdomen dangling from her with its fangs implanted in her skin, before she brushed it away.

It was only when she got home later that day that the 52-year-old noticed blood trickling down her leg and realised the wound needed disinfecting.

But within 48 hours Paula's leg ballooned and bubbled up in blisters so she rushed to her pharmacy.

When red track marks started streaking down her calf the following day, the gran went to A&E where doctors confirmed she'd been bitten by a false widow spider – whose bites produce necrosis of the flesh.

It was there Paula was told the critters became agitated round mating season, and she may have incurred the wrath of a randy spider whose web she'd accidentally destroyed.

A month on from her ordeal, Paula is now urging anyone bitten by a creepy crawly to monitor the bite and seek medical attention.

Paula, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, said: "The fact that they're looking for a mate at this time of year has sent them into a bit of a frenzy.

"A man in A&E said I could have walked through his web, he's made this most fantastic web to attract a mate, and I've walked through it.

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"He was probably really upset by the fact I've done that and, in a sex-crazed frenzy, he's bitten me."

Gran-of-five Paula, along with 53-year-old husband Neil Smith who is a driving instructor, had been taking two-year-old Meadow on her usual walk through the park.

Taking advantage of the warm weather, she decided to wear a pair of shorts on the walk.

She suddenly felt a tickling sensation on her calf, looked down, discovered the notorious critter and knocked it away, thinking nothing more of it.

But when she returned home, Paula was forced to clean and disinfect her leg when she noticed it was bleeding.

Paula said: "We'd been walking in the park with Meadow as we normally do on a normal routine walk.

"I could feel something on my leg, I looked down and it was really hanging onto my calf.

"I saw the spider, it was quite big and it had a distinctive pattern on its back like a skull, and I swatted it off.

"When I got home there was blood running all down my leg so I knew it had obviously punctured.

"I came in and wiped it all clean and disinfected it and then went to bed and didn't think more about it because i didn't feel anything other than that."

During the night Paula said her leg ballooned and felt solid to the touch when she woke the following morning. She rang 111 who advised visiting a pharmacy.

Paula said: "My leg felt like someone was blowing it up, it got tighter and tighter as the night went on.

"By the time I got up the next morning it was like a massive balloon.

"My calf was rock hard so we decided I needed to get medical attention.

"We went to the local chemist and they gave me hydrocortisone cream, advised me to elevate my leg, take ibuprofen to take the swelling down, and take some antihistamines.

"Within 24 hours it had blistered, gone really red, the skin had started to break down and it started to look mottled all across my calf and down to my ankle and foot.

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"I took myself up to the hospital under duress after some Facebook friends saw pictures of my leg red and inflamed and asked me to go.

"A lady at the hospital said she was glad I'd done that because it could have been so much worse."

Paula went to Chesterfield Royal Hospital the next day (August 16), where doctors confirmed it was a spider bite.

Staff prescribed a five-day course of antibiotics and advised her to continue using the hydrocortisone cream.

Paula said: "When I saw the blisters on my leg I thought 'oh my god they look disgusting'.

"They started off like a little pimple then just got bigger and bigger and filled up more.

"There were about five blisters, one quite big one about the size of a 10p piece, with a few smaller penny-sized ones dotted around it.

"Everything the chemist had advised was spot on.

"The doctor at the hospital said in the worst case scenario if it wasn't sorted immediately with antibiotics and it starts tracking it can turn into sepsis.

"He said I'd done the best thing by going because it could have become so much worse."

Two days after visiting he hospital, the swelling started to go down and the blisters began to fade, but she's now been left with a faint scar.

Paula is now urging people to get bites checked out, even if they believe it's nothing serious.

Paula said: "I would advise anyone bitten by a spider to go to a chemist and let someone look at it.

"No matter how small or insignificant you think something like this is, to seek medical attention.

"I was never wary of spiders before this, but it has made me wary of them now because you just don't know."

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