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MAIN Arrow to EntertainingEntertaining Arrow to Summer Party IdeasSummer Fun & Safety Guide

Spider Bites - Symptoms & Treatment

brown recluse spider
Also known as the fiddleback,
the brown recluse spider is
identified by a violin shaped
marking on its back.

black widow spider
The female black widow spider
is usually identified by the red
hourglass marking on its belly.

Summertime...and the spider's are biting.

Actually, out of the more than 20,000 different spider species of spiders, only a few have bites that are dangerous and almost none are lethal if properly treated.

In the US, the two most common spider bites are those received from the brown recluse spider and the black widow spider which often prefer the warmer climates of southern and southwest states.

Of course, in an increasingly mobile American population, venomous spiders can hitch a ride in luggage, shoes or clothing to administer bites outside their usual geographic range.

If you think you've suffered a venomous spider bite, here are some facts and information you should know:

Black widow spider bite symptoms

Although both sexes are capable of defending itself, it is the female black widow spider that gives the more venomous bite whenever threatened. In fact, so swift is her bite that victims may not realize they have been bitten until a slight swelling occurs.

Soon after, a red mark will appear and it will take a few hours before pain and stiffness occur around the area of the bite.

Depending on the bite's severity, other symptoms may include chills and fever, nausea, abdominal pain, back and neck aches, cold sweats, and sometimes labored breathing.

Brown recluse spider symptoms

brown recluse spider
A boil-like lesion may remain months
following a bite by a brown recluse spider.

After a mild stinging, a brown recluse spider bite usually takes up to 4-8 hours before severe pain and redness begin. Sometimes it may not be noticed for several days. Usually, a blister erupts around the area of the bite and depending on the body's reaction, symptoms may include fever, a general rash, fatigue and nausea. Muscle pain may also occur depending on where the spider bite is located, and especially when it appears in the foot or leg.

Since the bite results in a large boil-like lesion, a staph infection may sometimes by diagnosed as the culprit. Therefore, it's important to bring any remains of the spider with you if possible to a doctor for proper diagnosis.

Anecdotal evidence from patients show that wounds from brown recluse spider bites may either heal quickly or in some cases result in a necrotic lesion which may take months to clear up. So it's very important to dress the wound daily, until it completely heals, to avoid infection.

Spider bite treatment - do's and don'ts

Medical attention is almost always highly recommended to properly clean and treat spider bites, especially in children or adults with severe symptoms.

However, swift home care should include cleaning the area around the bite with mild soap and cool (not hot) water, followed by a cold compress to ease swelling. Take acetaminophen for pain relief, and avoid any strenuous activity to avoid the spread of venom.

DON'T apply heat or hot compresses to the bite, which only causes the venom to spread and increase chances of tissue destruction. For the same reason, also avoid topical steroid creams. Also resist the temptation to pick around the effected area, or try to remove the venom with suction devices.

Finally, to avoid infection or the sometimes severe complications caused by untreated spider bites, see a doctor as soon as possible to seek professional care and treatment.

More about spider bite symptoms & treatment around the Web:

How to identify and treat a brown recluse spider bite


Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms & Treatment

Spider Bite Symptoms, Pictures and Treatment

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