How to Treat a Spider Bite

Spiders, found all around the world, are a great source of fear for many people, whether venomous or not. Arachnophobia, or fear of spiders, is one of the most common phobias. There are more than 30,000 species of spiders, and though most of them are venomous, they cannot inflict serious bites because of their short fangs and delicate mouthparts. Most spider bites don’t go all the way through the skin and are usually harmless.

Even though that is the case, spiders that manage to bite through the skin and insert toxic venom can cause serious health complications. Many bites which are attributed to them are actually inflicted by other bugs or simply a case of skin infection. How to Treat a Spider Bite at Home

Most spider bites cause local pain and swelling. They look like any other bug bite —inflamed red and sometimes painful or itchy bump on your skin — and could even go unnoticed. Harmless bites most often don’t produce any other symptoms. They can usually be prevented by simple personal and domestic measures. For non-venomous spider bites you should: Wash the area carefully with soap and water to prevent any venom, bacteria or dirt from entering your bloodstream through the wound. Do this two to three times a day until the skin is healed.

Put an ice pack or a cool wet cloth on the bite area to relieve pain and swelling.

Apply an antibiotic ointment to protect against infection

Apply an antihistamine cream to relieve itching sensations

To help with pain, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)

Contact a health care professional if the symptoms worsen or don’t subside

Symptoms and Treatment with Venomous Spiders

Serious systemic reactions most frequently occur with bites from: Brown spiders: brown recluse and its relatives

Widow spiders: black widow, brown widow

It is important to be able to identify these spider bites in order to seek proper treatment, since they can cause serious maladies that can, in severe cases, even be deadly. 1. Brown Spiders

These arachnoids often don’t have unique identifying markings, apart from female brown recluse spiders which have distinct darker brown patterns in the shape of a violin or cello. Most encounters with recluse spiders occur when moving boxes in closets, attics, garages or under beds where they may have nested. Many brown spider bites occur in the early morning; bites cluster wherever bed sheets, bedclothes, or other items of clothing squeeze the female spider between the material and the victim’s skin, most often at the waist, under the arms or on the legs under socks or pants.

Unlike common house spider bites, recluse spider bites may require medical treatment. Initially, the bite of a recluse spider is in most cases not painful at all or minimally painful. A short time after, the skin around the bite becomes tender and red. A red or purple ring resembling a target or bulls-eye will develop around the bite.

Brown spider bite symptoms may include: Headache

Nausea or vomiting

Joint pain



In extreme and rare cases they may cause severe symptoms, such as: Seizures

Blood in urine

Kidney failure


Complications develop more often in children and older adults. 2. Widow Spiders

Male widows are much smaller and normally less dangerous than the female widows. Widows are mostly non-aggressive, but they will bite if the web is disturbed and the spider feels threatened. This type of spider can often be identified by its characteristic red hourglass mark on its abdomen.

Black widow spider bites usually feel like a pinprick or nothing at all, but you will see the reaction immediately. The bites often occur when cleaning the shed, garage and areas around the outside of the house.

Widow spider bite symptoms include: Painful muscle cramps

Stomach pain and stiffness

Nausea and vomiting

Pain and burning at the puncture area


Difficulty breathing

Increased salivation and sweating

Black widow spider venom is toxic and can cause damage to the nervous system. Treatment

Even though bites from brown recluse spiders and widows can sometimes be alarming and seem quite serious, they usually resolve without causing any serious injury or death. The envenomation from a widow spider bite typically resolves within 2 to 3 days, but that of a recluse spider takes longer to resolve. If bitten by a widow or brown recluse spider, you should: Wash the bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.

Elevate the bitten area, if it’s an arm or a leg

Take over-the-counter medications as needed. You could try using antihistamines and pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Consider tying a tight bandage above the bite and elevate the limb to help slow the venom from spreading. Be sure that the bandage isn’t wrapped too tightly that it cuts off circulation in your arm or leg. Go to a doctor. They might prescribe an antibiotic if the bite becomes infected and recommend a tetanus booster (if needed). Spider Bite Prevention Most spider bites are inflicted by spiders which are not of any serious danger to humans; these bites generally happen outdoors or indoors during daytime activities in the spring and summer, when the potential for human-spider encounters is at its peak.Spider bites could be prevented by: Removing spiderweb with a vacuum or a broom Wearing long-sleeved shirts, gloves and trousers tucked into socks when cleaning the attic and the garage or when gathering firewood Applying household insecticides around your house Sealing entries in walls and floors Maintaining a clutter-free environment Conclusion Despite being a source of fear for many people, there are only a few types of spiders that are actually harmful to people. There are a few very useful at-home methods for how to treat a spider bite, but if you’re concerned or the symptoms worsen, seek medical advice from a professional. References:


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