WARNING: This report contains graphic images, reader discretion is advised.
A personal trainer is lucky to be alive after suffering a horrific reaction to a suspected spider bite.
Nicky Thornley was bitten on the middle finger of his left hand, but put it down to a fly bite and put some cream on it.
But the 33-year-old’s finger swelled up “like a balloon” and caused the skin to crack open, exposing his muscles and bone.
Thornley told the Newcastle Chronicle: “It is unknown what caused the bite but it is highly likely that it was a spider."
“Surgeons and staff were shocked at what had happened and they couldn’t believe it happened here in Newcastle and not abroad in a hotter climate country or tropical jungle.”
Thornley spent five days in Newcastle hospital on a drip and underwent two operations before the infection was curbed.
He said: “The doctors said it was very fortunate I had came into A&E when I did. If I’d have ignored it, it would have been a different story.
“The infection was preventing circulation and I could have died or lost a limb.”
Thornley is now urging anyone who suffers an insect bite to get it checked out quickly.
He added: “I hope my story raises awareness. If anyone gets bit then they should seek urgent medical attention. They shouldn’t ignore it.”
Thornley’s warning comes after Andrea Wallace did lose a finger after being bitten in her garden in County Durham.
The 44-year-old assumed it had been an insect bite but the culprit was later found to be a false widow spider carrying a flesh-eating bug called necrotising fasciitis.
Within hours Wallace’s finger had swelled to double its size and she said: “I just couldn’t stand the pain … the skin was cracking and there was black pus bursting out of it.”
False widow spiders are the most venomous in the UK though they are not believed to be responsible for any deaths.
They are around the size of a 50p piece, have cream markings on their brown, reddish bodies and orangey legs.
False widow spiders have thought to have entered the UK via fruit shipments in the 1870s. Recently, the number of spiders has increased due to warm weather, wildlife experts say.
Although extreme cases like Wallace's are rare, a false widow bite can cause severe swelling, chest pains and tingling of fingers. Complications usually occur due to bacteria on the skin causing infection not from the venom itself.
False Widows, Adders, Water Shrews & Cows: Creatures Not To Mess With In Britain