How Can I Treat A Spider Bite?

There are spiders in, pretty much, the entire world. So, even if you wouldn't have one as a pet, you're likely to run into these arachnids now and then. But, if the encounter is not so sweet and you end up with a bite, here's how you should treat the wound.

The treatment for a spider bite will depend on many factors, including the species that bit you. But, more or less, you'll have to wash the spot with soap and apply an antibiotic lotion to prevent an infection. Doctors may also prescribe over-the-counter pills or antivenom, depending on the spider. 

But how do you know if it's necessary to seek medical attention? What are the symptoms of a spider's bite? We have all the answers in this post!

Everything You Need to Know About Treating a Spider Bite

How to treat a spider bite
How to treat a spider bite

How to Treat a Spider Bite

The first thing you need to know is that most spider bites are not lethal to humans. Depending on the species and size, you may not even notice a spider bit you. After all, these animals’ small fangs can rarely ever break through a person’s skin.

To give you an idea, a spider's bite feels like a bee sting. And, for the most part, you only have to worry if you're allergic to bee stings. 

That said, there are spider species whose venom is more of a threat to humans, including the Black Widow. So, the treatment for a spider's bite will depend on the kind of spider that "attacked" you. And we use quotation marks because spiders tend to only bite in self-defense if they sense danger.

Thus, if possible, it would help if you identify the spider that bit you. Knowing the species will allow you (or the doctor) to understand how to treat the bite. 

For example, let's say you own a tarantula, and it bit you by accident while you were handling it. Regardless of what some people may believe, a tarantula's venom is not dangerous to humans. These species are only "dangerous" if you have an allergic reaction.

So, in most cases, you'll only need to wash a tarantula's bite with soap and tons of water. Likewise, you can use a wet cloth to reduce the swelling and the pain.

But, if the pain or inflammation doesn’t stop, it would be best if you seek medical attention. Doctors may prescribe some over-the-counter medication. If there's an infection, you may also have to put an antibiotic ointment on the bite.

That said, there are spider species that are, indeed, a threat to humans. Some of the most venomous spiders you should worry about are:

  • Black Widows, Red Widows, and every spider in that genus.
  • Redback Spiders.
  • Brown Recluse Spiders.
  • Wolf Spiders

To treat a bit of a venomous spider, you'll have to follow all the protocols we already mentioned. But you may also have to get an anti-venom injection. In some cases, you could receive an intravenous anti-venom.

You can only get an anti-venom if a doctor prescribes it to you. Anti-venom can cause severe allergic reactions, so you can't take it lightly.

Symptoms of a Spider Bite

The most common symptoms of a spider bite include pain, swelling, and redness in the bitten area.

That said, the bite of a venomous spider such as a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse can also cause:

  • Stomach cramps. Venomous spiders may cause you to experience intense stomach cramps. Sometimes, people mistake this symptom for appendicitis.
  • Cold sweats and nausea. Depending on how long you take to seek medical attention, you could get chills and even fever. This symptom tends only to happen when a poisonous spider (like a Black Widow) bites you.
  • Trouble breathing
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Red, itchy blisters

These symptoms can be more severe on the elderly, children, and people with allergies. In the worst-case-scenarios, the bite of a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse can be deadly.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose a Spider Bite?

A doctor will diagnose a spider bit you after looking at the wound and checking for symptoms. Of course, the doctor will also listen to your history and ask you if you have pictures of the spider. Thus, before you visit the closest clinic or hospital, you should:

  • Try to take a picture of the spider that bit you or ask someone to take it for you.
  • If you didn't take any pictures, try to remember as many details about the spider as possible. An in-depth description will help the doctor know the correct treatment. Even recruiting a friend or family member to help paint a picture of the arachnid will come in handy.

The doctor may also ask about the time the spider bit you to understand for how long you've had symptoms. Other questions may revolve around whether the symptoms have gotten worse.

Since there's no such thing as overpreparation, we would also tell you to make two lists. 

In one list, gather all the symptoms you experience since the spider bite you. Whatever you notice you've been feeling, please don't leave it out!

Use the second list to write down any question you may want to ask the doctor, so you don't forget. These questions can include:

  1. Is the spider that bit me venomous to humans?
  1. Do you have to run any tests?
  1. What's the treatment going to be? 
  1. What's the best course of action?
  1. How long will I be having symptoms?
How to prevent a spider bite
How to prevent a spider bite

How to Prevent Spider Bites

To prevent being bit by spiders, you need to keep an eye out for them. Spiders tend to hide in small, dark areas, so you can sometimes find them in your shoes and other pieces of clothing. So, it would help if you double-check before putting these items on or after taking them off.

You would also benefit from sealing windows with screens. Making sure there aren’t any cracks on the walls is another good idea.

Likewise, keeping an eye on any spider webs in your house is a must. These webs tend to appear in places like attics, basements, and garages

Any wooden area is, pretty much, spider heaven as well. So, wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and, if possible, even gloves around these spots. 

If you have spider pets, you'll need to be extra careful if you handle them or pick them out of their enclosure. If a spider senses your nerves or if you're too rough, it may bite you.

If you don't have spider pets but do outdoor activities often, you may want to consider repellent. Wearing repellent on your skin and clothes will keep all kinds of insects away.

How to Identify Venomous Spiders

How to identify venomous spiders
How to identify venomous spiders

As we mentioned before, certain spider species can be lethal to humans. So, knowing how to identify these arachnids will come in handy.

For example, a Black Widow stands out for its shiny black body, long legs, and a red mark on its abdomen. Most times, this red spot has an hourglass shape. This spider tends to be around an inch big and lives on webs, where it waits for insects to kill. 

Meanwhile, the poisonous Brown Recluse spider is less than an inch big and is brown or gold-ish. This arachnid has a violin-shaped mark between its head and its thorax. A Brown Recluse also has long, slim legs.

Spider Species You Shouldn't Worry About

Despite what horror movies may want you to believe, tarantulas aren't lethal to humans. Like we said earlier unless you have a compromised immune system, you'll be okay if a tarantula bites you.

Likewise, the bite of a jumping spider or a common house spider is not a threat to your health or life. These tiny multi-legged fellows are more likely to run (or jump!) away from you than to bite you, anyway. 

To most spiders, we look like giant predators, and they will choose flight over fight most times.

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