Spiders are fascinating creatures to some, and the worst nightmare for others. But regardless of which side of the fence you’re on when it comes to these arthropods, you do not want to wind up nursing a spider bite.
The thought of being bitten by a spider can be quite unsettling. Thankfully, most spider bites can cause only minor harm. However, there are a few spiders that are considered to be dangerous. In the United States, these include black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, yellow sac spiders and hobo spiders. Knowing how to treat a spider bite depends on the species of spider.
Q: HOW WOULD I KNOW IF I HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY A SPIDER?
A: Most spider bites often resemble an insect bite at first glance. In both cases, you may develop itchy and slightly raised bumps around the bite site. Spiders bite by using two fangs, so if you look closely at the wound, you may see two distinct puncture marks.
Q: ARE ALL SPIDER BITES POISONOUS?
A: “Poisonous” is a term usually understood to mean harmful or even deadly to humans. Most spiders aren't dangerous to people. All spiders have some type of venom, which they use to disable their prey. However, most spiders have venom that is either medically harmless to humans, or they inject so little of it that spider bite treatment is not required.
Q: WHAT SPIDER BITE TREATMENT IS NEEDED IF THE SPIDER BITE WAS CAUSED BY A BLACK WIDOW OR BROWN RECLUSE?
A: Only the black widow and brown recluse spiders have enough toxins in their venom to be fatal. They can be especially harmful to the elderly or small children. Black widow and brown recluse bites are particularly dangerous because symptoms can take hours or days to develop. Once bitten by a poisonous spider, depending on the amount of venom injected, you may develop symptoms that warrant medical attention. If symptoms occur, you want to consider a spider bite treatment. According to the Mayoclinic.org signs and symptoms of a brown recluse bite vary but may include:
- Mild stinging soon after the bite.
- Redness and intense pain, within eight hours.
- A deep blue or purple area around the bite, which may develop a red ring around it.
Deciding how to treat spider bites can be difficult. If you suspect that you have been bitten by a black widow spider or brown recluse spider, you should call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1.800.222.1222.
Q: WHEN SHOULD I SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION AFTER BEING BITTEN BY A SPIDER?
A: Most spider bites cause mild reactions. MedlinePlus.gov advises the following treatment for spider bites:
- Wash the area well with soap and water.
- Apply an ice pack or a wet compress to the area.
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine, if needed.
- Consider using antihistamines for severe swelling.
- Seek medical treatment for small children and adults with severe symptoms.
You should seek medical attention if you are unsure whether or not the bite was from a poisonous spider or if the person who was bitten experiences severe pain, abdominal cramping or a growing ulcer at the site of the bite.
Q: ARE THERE ANY HOME REMEDIES FOR SPIDER BITES?
A: Common home remedy suggestions for spider bites treatment are similar to the advice given by MedlinePlus. If the bite is on an arm or leg, it is best to elevate it. WebMD.com also states that an antihistamine taken by mouth may help relieve itching, redness and swelling. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with your doctor first. A spray of local anesthetic containing benzocaine may help relieve pain. If your skin reacts to the spray, stop using it. Hydrocortisone 1% cream or calamine lotion applied to the skin may also help relieve itching and redness. Note: Not all spider bites treatments are safe for everyone to use. Do not use any medical cream on children younger than age 2 unless approved by your doctor first. After the first six hours, if swelling is not present, try applying warmth to the site for comfort. It is always best to consult your doctor if you are concerned about how to treat a spider bite or fear that you may have been bitten.
Harmless or not, no one wants to take the chance of being bitten by a spider. If you’ve seen spiders crawling around or building webs in or near your home, call a pest management professional to ensure your home is safe and secure.