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Quick GuideSpider Bites: Black Widow vs. Brown Recluse First Aid
What should you do if you are bitten by a black widow or brown recluse spider?
- Wash the bite area with soap and water.
- Elevate the area to prevent spread of the venom.
- Tie a snug bandage above the area (if on an arm or leg) to further reduce spread of the venom, but do not make the bandage too tight that it impairs the blood circulation.
- Always seek immediate emergency medical care. An anti-venom medication is sometimes given for black widow spider bites. Doctors use different types of medications to treat spider bites, including pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and/or corticosteroids. Sometimes hospitalization is required after black widow or brown recluse spider bites.
- If possible, retrieve the spider and bring it with you to the health care practitioner so that it can be definitively identified.
- A tetanus booster shot may be necessary, depending upon the date of the patient's last immunization.
- Calling the Poison Control Center (24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.) allows you to reach toxicology experts who can work with a health care provider in establishing the proper diagnosis and management of a spider bite.
Medically reviewed by Joseph Palermo, DO; American Osteopathic Board Certified Internal Medicine
"Approach to the patient with a suspected spider bite: An overview"