How to Treat Spider Bites

Most spider bites don’t actually penetrate the top layer of the skin, and the majority of spiders found in Texas and the U.S. are generally harmless with the crucial exceptions of the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider, which are both harmful to the human body. Fortunately, spider bites are uncommon, in most cases, suspected spider bites are actually another insect bite or some unrelated skin condition.

Black Widow Spider Bites

When a black widow spider bites, it is said that it feels like a pin-prick, and some victims don’t even realize they have been bitten. Sometimes, if someone has been bitten by a black widow spider, they may notice double fang markings on their skin. The most common symptoms at the location of the bite are immediate pain, swelling, redness, and burning. Other symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pains.

Brown Recluse Spider Bites

Although black widow spider bites aren’t typically fatal, rare deaths have occurred from brown recluse spider bites and are more common with children than adults. At first, the bite of a brown recluse spider starts with a mild stinging, followed by redness around the bite, then severe pain that usually develops within approximately eight hours. Some that have had brown recluse bites have described a blue or purple color area around the bite, which is surrounded by a whitish ring within a large red outer ring in a “bull’s eye” pattern. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to reveal a deep ulcer that may turn black.

If Bitten by a Brown Recluse or Black Widow Spider, You Should:

  • Seek medical attention immediately!
  • Cleanse the bite wound and the skin around it with soap and water.
  • Slow the spread of the venom by tying a snug bandage above the bite. Then, if the bite is on an arm or leg, elevate the limb to help slow the spread of the venom. Be sure the bandage is not so tight that it cuts off circulation to the limb.
  • Apply a cold cloth to the location of the spider bite.

Once medical treatment begins, a doctor may treat the black widow bite with an anti-venom medication. Treatment for a brown recluse spider bite may require various medications.

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