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How To Treat A Spider Bite

When it comes to receiving a spider bite, the vast majority of people will have very few side effects or problems, and in many cases people will barely notice that they have been bitten at all. Although spiders do use a biting mechanism to subdue their prey, many of the smaller species of spider will not have sufficiently large mouth parts (chelicerae) to actually break the skin. This is why smaller spiders really shouldn’t be a cause of concern for most people.

When Does A Spider Bite?
When it comes to interactions with humans, most spiders will be very cautious and will avoid any sort of contact where possible. There are a small number of species of exotic spider that can be aggressive, but those native to the United States will really only bite if they are threatened. In most cases this will be when people do not realize that the spiders are there, or accidentally disturb their nest.

There tend to be more bites delivered by female spiders than male spiders because the females are larger and are more likely to be defending their young.

Treating Spider Bites
One of the best things that people can do if they are bitten by a spider is to place the spider in a container if it has been killed or is easily caught without risk of another bite. This can be very useful as the spider can then be identified to help decide whether or not there is any risk present from the type of venom produced by that type of spider. For bites delivered by spiders that aren’t dangerous and don’t have any venom that is dangerous to humans, then washing the wound with soap and water and taking a painkiller is sufficient.

However, symptoms such as nausea and fever, or a worsening of the pain or swelling around the wound are symptoms that should indicate that it is a wise course of action to seek medical help.

Seeking Medical Help
People living in the United States will usually only find that there are two species of spider that can deliver dangerous bites, namely the black widow and the brown recluse spider. Both of these are not aggressive and will only bite if they are disturbed in the nest or are pressed against the flesh by accident. This is why it is particularly useful to identify the species of spider that has delivered the bite, as this can make it much easier to deliver the appropriate type of treatment.

If treated relatively quickly antivenin can be used which can counter the damaging effect of the venom that is often injected into the victim by the spider. If the biting spider can be identified, then the best course of treatment is to use an ice pack to deal with the inflammation, and to immobilize and elevate the bitten area to ensure that the venom doesn’t spread to the rest of the body. For black widow bites where the spider has been identified the use of painkillers and antivenin along with an icepack on the wound is the usual course of action.

Potential Consequences Of A Spider Bite
Historically there were cases of people being killed by spider bites from the black widow or the brown recluse, but this is much rarer now due to advances in medicine. The black widow is a nocturnal spider, so the development of indoor toilets has reduced the instances of people coming into contact with the species. Those who have been bitten by a black widow will sometimes experience chest pains, dizziness, vomiting and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.

The brown recluse spider can deliver a bite which can cause significant problems, and in some cases a necrosis of the flesh around the bite can often be particularly unpleasant. The size of the lesion where the cells will die around the bite can range from an inch up to ten inches in diameter, and can leave unpleasant scars that will be visible even after months of healing. In rare cases the bite of the brown recluse can also lead to clots forming in the blood stream, organ damage and a low platelet count in the blood, which causes fatigue.

Where Are These Spiders Most Common
The range of the brown recluse is generally in the southern states and in the southern part of the Midwest, with many of the reported bites elsewhere being attributable to other spiders such as the hobo spider. When they are found in domestic properties they will usually be in dark hidden areas, and are often found in cardboard boxes, shoes and work gloves that are rarely used. The most venomous variant of the black widow is generally found in the warmer parts of the United States, although there are sub-species that can be found in the northeastern states and in Canada.

Some of my other spider pages:
Brown Widow Spider - information and photos.
Spider Identification Guide - with photos of USA dangerous species.
How to Treat a Spider Bite
How To Get Rid of Spiders
Brown Widow Spider Range - with USA map photograph
Hobo Spider Range - with USA map photograph
Brown Recluse Range - with USA map photograph

Click here for my Florida spider photos.

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