Many bug bites look alike, but if a venomous spider has bitten you, you may not realize it right away. Many people don't notice insect bites until they react to the venom or the saliva from the creature. Redness, swelling, and itching at the site of the bite are all very common symptoms. If you've been outdoors, or if you've been gathering wood from a stacked pile, you can run the risk of a bite from a venomous spider. In fact, you can even get a spider bite while you're asleep! While all spiders have fangs, and most inject venom into their prey, very few spiders have teeth that can break the skin of a human and cause damage.
Spiders that fall in this risky-to-humans category include black widow, wolf, brown recluse, hobo and camel spiders. Depending on the type of spider that bites you, spider bite symptoms can range from very mild to dangerously poisonous. Some species of spider are limited to certain areas of the globe, while others are more ubiquitous. A brown recluse, for instance, typically won't harm you unless you come into contact with it - and there are precautions that you can take to avoid this. Wolf spiders, on the other hand, are more active and found in just about every part of the world. They prefer grasslands but can make their home anywhere.
Most spider bites differ from, say, a mosquito bite by the appearance of concentric circles around the site of the bite. Redness, swelling, inflammation, and itching are all mild symptoms of a spider bite. However, finding red and white rings around the site of the puncture indicates the presence of venom and requires medical treatment. If you notice the bite area becoming painful, tight, and redder, seek immediate medical attention. Also, if you experience severe abdominal pain and cramping and you have visible signs of a spider bite, you may need an antibody treatment.
Brown recluse spiders are, by their name, reclusive. They typically nest in wooded areas, including stacks of cut firewood, basements, and attics. If you're gathering wood for a fire, wear heavy gloves. Black widow spiders may sometimes make their home in unusual areas around your house. Shoes that haven't been worn for a while might house a stray spider, or you may find them inside closets and children's playhouses. Hobo spiders, common in the Pacific Northwest, like to make their homes in flower beds - if you enjoy gardening, wear gloves, and familiarize yourself with their appearance. Wolf spiders are very common in North America and typically make their homes in basements, sheds, and other dark, cool places.
Black Widow bites begin with a red bump, and if there has been a substantial amount of venom, then the redness swells and expands. Expect the skin around the bite site to feel tight and hot. While some people only experience a mild discomfort around the bite area, children or those small in stature may have a more severe reaction. A severe reaction can include pain and burning at bite site that typically starts within an hour of being bitten. The pain can move to the abdomen, and feel like tight cramps. A headache, high blood pressure, and excessive sweating are all indications that you've experienced a black widow bite. If you experience symptoms like this, seek emergency treatment.
The venom from a brown recluse may actually begin to destroy your epidermis in a radius around the site of the bite. Brown recluse spiders inject both venom and digestive enzymes into their prey, and if they bite you, you'll also receive both of those. If you don't have prompt medical attention from a brown recluse bite, you may experience skin necrosis and a small ulcer from the bite site. Other symptoms include a bulls-eye shaped bite, pain, fever, and chills. While some bites heal on their own with 7 to 10 days, other times the skin at the center of the bite can become dark blue/purple and turn into a deep open sore that enlarges as the surrounding skin dies. This ulcer usually stops growing within ten days after the bite, but full healing can take months.
Wolf spiders are very common in basements, as well as other cool, dark places. They're readily identifiable by their two larger eyes and lightly furred bodies. While they won't bite you unless they feel trapped or threatened, the overlap between wolf spider's preferred dwelling and human habitation means that encounters are fairly common. Symptoms of a wolf spider bite include a bite that tears the skin and causes pain, redness, and swelling, followed by swollen lymph glands. While the venom of a wolf spider isn't as toxic as a brown recluse or black widow, healing can take up to two weeks and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms.
Quickly spreading redness, excessive sweating, fever, and chills are all signs that you've received a toxic bite. If you feel your heart racing or notice signs of high blood pressure, seek medical attention immediately. Abdominal cramping, with symptoms similar to that of pancreatitis, can indicate black widow venom. Brown recluse bites that turn blue or purple around the site need medical attention, as well, to prevent the spread of skin necropolis. If the victim has trouble breathing or shows other signs of an allergic reaction, seek immediate emergency medical attention. Do not attempt to treat at home.
General spider bite care includes a cold compress or ice on the lesion. Traditional treatment for spider bite treatment should start off with cleaning the spider bite and applying an antibiotic ointment. Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers or antihistamine medications may also bring relief from the itching and swelling. Some doctors may recommend a topical ointment, such as a histamine treatment or anti-itch cream. You may also choose to apply an antibiotic cream. If your bite is severe enough to warrant medical intervention, then you'll be prescribed a treatment regimen suitable for your condition.
If you prefer homeopathic or organic natural treatments for a spider bite, there are other treatments, such as applying lavender oil and alternating warm and cold compresses that can help reduce the redness and swelling around the site. A poultice made from baking soda and water applied directly to the affected skin can reduce redness and itching. This may be applied as needed and washed off after 20 to 30 minutes. Elevating the affected area may also help to reduce swelling, especially when done in conjunction with compresses.
While uncommon, allergic reactions to spider bites can be dangerous, and even life-threatening. Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and swelling of the face, eyes, and throat are all signs of a severe reaction to a spider bite. In addition to allergic reactions, seek treatment if you experience severe pain, abdominal cramping or a growing ulcer at the bite site. These are reactions to a specific type of spider and may be treatable with antivenom. Also, seek treatment if the bite area gets continually worse or spreads after applying basic first aid.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.