What to know about spider bites
There are many species of spiders around the world such as the jumping spider, wolf spider, brown recluse, black widow, hobo spider, tarantulas, false black widow, camel spider, etc. Most spiders don’t bite unless they are threatened. Some don’t even have fangs. Most spider bites aren’t poisonous. A few species in the United States and Australia are known to be poisonous and can be deadly. These are the black widow and brown recluse.
How do you identify a spider bite?
The most obvious way to identify a spider bite is to see the spider on or near the person’s body. The puncture marks may be seen on the body part. They may be surrounded by an area of redness. In the United States, only the black widow and brown recluse are often known to be the most harmful to people.
- The black widow is an approximately 1-inch long spider with a shiny black body and long legs. It has a red hourglass-shaped mark on the outer side of the belly.
- The brown recluse is around 0.25to 0.75-inches long, violin-shaped and golden brown with six eyes.
- Most spiders live in undisturbed, dark areas such as woodpiles, sheds or attics and they don’t bite unless threatened.
What are the symptoms of spider bites?
Although all the spiders look different, they do share some common symptoms. The severity of a spider bite may depend on the type of the spider, the amount of venom injected and your body’s sensitivity to it.
If you suspect that you have been bitten by a spider, you may have
- Bite marks
- Sudden sharp pain at the site of the bite that may last for days
- Tingling sensation around the bite
- Inability to move the limb that was bitten
- Headache, nausea, vomiting and belly pain
- Painful, red tiny bumps
- A lot of sweating and chills
- A lot of drooling
- Swelling around your face and eyes (if you have an allergy to the venom)
- Cyanosis (turns your lips and skin blue due to poor blood flow)
- Muscle or neck pain
- Cramps or muscle twitching
- Lung swelling
What can you do if you have a spider bite?
If you suspect that you have been bitten by a spider, you must
- Check whether you have any spider bite marks.
- Do not panic. Most bites are harmless.
- Clean the area with soap and water.
- Wrap a clean, wet towel around the area.
- Place an ice cube on the bite to reduce the redness and swelling.
- Put some antibiotic cream on that area.
- Do not put a bandage on (unless you know the type of spider or bite).
- Raise your arm or leg if it was bitten.
- Take a mild, over-the-counter analgesic such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for your pain.
- Take an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce your swelling.
- Call or see a doctor if
- If possible, take a photo of the spider or take the spider (even dead) to the doctor to help identify it and correlate it with your symptoms.
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Spider Bites (Black Widow and Brown Recluse)
Most spiders in the United States are harmless; however, black widow and brown recluse spider bites may need medical treatment. Symptoms of a harmless spider bite generally include pain, redness, and irritation.
Signs and symptoms of black widow spider bite include pain immediately, redness, burning, and swelling at the site of the bite. Sometimes the person will feel a pinprick or double fang marks.
Brown recluse spider bite symptoms and signs are a mild sting, followed by severe pain and local redness. These symptoms usually develop within eight hours or more after the bite. Black widow and brown recluse spider bites have similar symptoms, for example, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, and abdominal or joint pain.
Generally, brown recluse and black widow spider bites need immediate medical treatment. If you think that you or someone you know has been bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider, go to your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Department for medical treatment.
What Do Spider Bites Look Like?The appearance of a spider bite varies depending on the type of spider causing the bite. Spider bites often take longer to heal than other insect bites.