What Does A House Spider Bite Look Like?

Spiders That Bite

While some spider bites cause only redness and itching, others are more dangerous. Here’s how to identify spiders that bite — and what to do if you get bitten.

There are more than 50,000 types of spiders in the world. All spiders have eight legs, no wings, and only two body parts: a thorax and an abdomen. They also all have fangs and enough venom to kill the insects that make up their diet. But only a handful of spiders have fangs and venom that can penetrate human skin — including the brown recluse spider, hobo spider, camel spider, wolf spider, black widow spider, and banana spider. Most spiders are harmless and will bite only if they feel threatened. But depending on the spider and its victim, spider bites can cause anything from mild itching and redness to a reaction that becomes a medical emergency. Here’s detailed info on some common spiders and their bites.

The Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider gets its name from its habit of living in dark corners inside or outside homes, such as in woodpiles, closets, attics, and basements. This spider is more common in areas that have warm and dry climates, like the south and central areas of the United States. The brown recluse is about a half-inch to an inch long, is light brown in color, and has a violin-shaped mark on its back. The distinctive mark gives the spider these other nicknames: the violin spider or fiddleback spider.

The Brown Recluse Spider Bite

The brown recluse spider’s venom may cause burning pain and itching within several hours after a bite. The actual bite may cause a stinging sensation or not be felt at all. The bite has the appearance of a bull’s-eye, with a central blister that scabs and falls off, leaving a small ulcer. Possible symptoms include body aches and fever. Children may be at risk for an allergic reaction to the venom. To treat a brown recluse spider bite, immediately wash it and apply an ice pack. You can also use an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. In most cases, symptoms resolve within 48 hours, but the central ulcer may take weeks to heal.

The Black Widow Spider

The black widow spider is about the same size as the brown recluse spider (a half-inch to an inch long) and also likes dark places. This spider is usually found outside in sheds, barns, or woodpiles. The black widow can be identified by her shiny black color and a red or orange hourglass marking on the underside of her abdomen. Only the bite of the female spider is dangerous. Black widows can be found throughout the United States but are most common in warmer and drier areas.

The Black Widow Spider Bite

The victim of a black widow spider’s bite usually feels it right away, and there may be fang marks and swelling. If you are bitten, you should clean and ice the bite. If the spider has injected venom, you may experience muscle aches and cramps that spread from the bite area to the rest of the body. Possible symptoms include nausea, difficulty breathing, and weakness. If someone bitten by a black widow spider experiences muscle cramps, emergency medical care may include blood pressure medication, muscle relaxants, and, in rare cases, antivenin — a biologic product created to counteract the effects of a spider’s venom. Serious reactions are rare, but are most common in children or very elderly people.

The Hobo Spider

The hobo spider is not native to the United States. It arrived in the northwest from Europe and is now common in California, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The spider is about one-half inch long and has long legs that allow it to move quickly on the ground. Its upper body is brown and its abdomen is grayish with yellow markings. The hobo likes to live in cracks or holes both inside and outside.

The Hobo Spider Bite

The hobo bite resembles the brown recluse bite, with a central blister that scabs and ulcerates, surrounded by a ring of swollen discoloration. Within an hour after the bite, the hobo spider’s venom can cause a numbing sensation and muscle or joint aches. After about three days, a black scab falls off, leaving an open, slow-healing type of wound.

The Wolf Spider

The wolf spider is common all over the United States. It doesn’t weave webs, and it gets its name from its habit of stalking prey like a wolf. The wolf spider is brown or gray in color and can be 3 to 4 inches across. Because some wolf spiders are large and hairy, they are sometimes mistaken for tarantulas. The female may be identified by a white egg sac that she carries with her. This spider prefers to live outdoors on the ground in loose sand or gravel, but it may wander indoors and be spotted running across the floor.

The Wolf Spider Bite

The wolf spider’s bite can cause pain, redness, and swelling. Its large fangs may tear the skin, which can become infected and cause lymph nodes to swell. Treatment of a wolf spider bite includes cleansing and icing. Swelling and pain can last up to 10 days, but medical attention is usually not necessary unless the victim is a small child or someone who is sick or elderly.

See also:  What Does A Brown Recluse Spider Web Look Like?

The Camel Spider

Camel spiders are sometimes called wind scorpions or sun spiders, but in reality, they are neither scorpions nor spiders. They belong to a group of desert creatures called solpugids, and they have elongated bodies that make them look more like scorpions than spiders. The name, derived from Latin, means «escape from the sun.» In the United States, camel spiders can be found in the deserts of the southwest. They are light brown in color, can be up to 5 inches long, and can run at about 10 miles per hour — often making a screaming sound while doing so.

The Camel Spider Bite

During the Iraq war, soldiers described huge camel spiders that seemed to run at them in a screaming attack mode. In reality these creatures, though scary in appearance, are not dangerous to humans, and if they run at someone, they are probably just seeking shade in the person’s shadow. They do not have any venom and do not bite except in self-defense. A bite is very unlikely and would not be dangerous to a person if it did happen.

The Banana Spider

The banana spider is found in warm regions of the United States from North Carolina through the Gulf states. It lives in woodlands and forests and produces large, intricate orb webs that glow golden in the sun. The female has a long shape that resembles a banana. She can be about three inches long and has yellow spots on her tan cylindrical body and brown and orange tufts on her legs. The male banana spider is an inconspicuous dark brown and less than an inch long.

The Banana Spider Bite

The banana spider is often confused with the Brazilian wandering spider, which is found among bananas shipped to the United States from South America; neither spider is native to North America. Although the Brazilian spider bite can be dangerous, the banana spider bite is not. Banana spiders will bite only if held or pinched. The bite produces mild stinging and redness (similar to a bee sting) that quickly goes away.

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Do You Have A Spider Bite? These 7 Photos Can Help You Tell

And here’s when you should see a doctor.

When it comes to spider bites, there’s literally one person ever for whom it’s been a great experience (what up, Spiderman?). and he’s fictional.

For the rest of us non-superheroes, getting bit by an eight-legged critter is something we’ll do anything to avoid. And with good reason: At best, getting bitten by a spider is an icky, slightly painful experience. But, at worst, it can be a life-threatening nightmare.

The good news: Out of the 3,000 or so types of spiders in the U.S., only a handful are known to bite, and of those, only about three are venomous and poisonous spiders and can put your life at risk, according to research published in American Family Physician. And if you’re wondering how long spider bites take to heal? While certainly itchy and annoying, most bites heal up within a week (other than brown recluse and hobo spider bites, which can unfortunately take weeks or much longer to heal, depending on whether you develop an infection).

But if you don’t happen to be a spider expert, how do you know if your spider bite is cause for serious concern—or how to make the itching and burning stop? The Instagram photos below (all reviewed by experts) will give you an idea of what different types of spider bites look like—and what you should do if you spot one on your bod.

A post shared by Arturo (@warmloaf) on Jan 6, 2018 at 2:15pm PST

Sometimes, spiders leave behind two distinct puncture holes right next to each other—but unless you actually see the spider do the dirty deed, it’s hard to know if it was caused by an arachnid or some other biting bug.

In fact, the vast majority of «spider bites» are actually bites from other insects like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; are a rash from an allergic reaction; or are skin abscesses from an infection, says Justin Arnold, D.O., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the associate medical director of the Alabama Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama.

The symptoms are often similar, too—pain, swelling, itching, and redness—so it’s an easy mistake to make. In fact, even spider experts and medical professionals have a hard time differentiating bug bites from spider bites just from how they look, he adds.

«Many people don’t recall an injury or specific bite and hold a common belief that a spider must have bitten them without them knowing,» he says. «In a majority of the cases that we see, a spider was never seen by patient and is not responsible for their infection.»

A post shared by @ yuckygross on Dec 19, 2016 at 8:11am PST

While poisonous bites are rare, any bite—spider or otherwise—can turn serious if it becomes infected, says Arnold. There are three main complications that can arise from bites: cellulitis, blisters, and swelling, says Arnold.

When a spider bite turns into cellulitis—a common (although painful) skin infection—a rash begins to spread around the wound, and the skin becomes painful and hot to the touch.

Another common reaction to many spider bites is to get «weeping» blisters at the site (they look puffy and fluid-filled). Small blisters on their own, with no other symptoms, don’t necessarily need special care. But if a blister opens, it becomes at risk for infection, says Arnold, so don’t try to pop them! If you think you may have an infection at the bite site, whether from cellulitis or open blisters, it’s best to have your doctor take a look.

See also:  When To Get A Spider Bite Checked Out?

Swelling is another very common symptom of insect or spider bites. Even though the swelling can get quite pronounced it’s not necessarily a problem, as long as it goes down within a few days. But if the swelling doesn’t go down, gets significantly worse, or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s time to get medical attention, says Arnold.

A post shared by Helen Harding (@hchharding) on Jan 27, 2018 at 4:21pm PST

The two most common spider bites are from house spiders, specifically the jumping spider and the wolf spider. While it can be scary to be bitten by any spider, these bites normally aren’t any more painful than a bee sting and shouldn’t cause problems beyond some redness, swelling, and itching, Arnold says.

Treat these at home by washing the site with soap and water, using cold compresses, and taking an ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling, he adds.

A post shared by Caitlin Miller Calder (@y2caitlin) on Apr 3, 2014 at 8:16am PDT

Of all of the spiders, black widows pose the greatest health threat to Americans, according to Rick Vetter, Ph.D., a spider expert in the department of entomology at the University of California, Riverside. Their bite is extremely painful and, while an antivenin (a.k.a. anti-venom) exists now, before it was discovered, about 5 percent of bitten people died.

Think you can ID a black widow bite on sight? Not so fast: The actual bite looks a lot like any other spider bite. However, they do tend to become more swollen and red than your general household spider bite, he says.

Black widow spiders are tough to identify, as well. Only female black widows have the characteristic red hourglass-shaped markings on their backs. Male and immature black widows have tan and white stripes, Vetter says.

Because these types of bites are so serious, if you strongly suspect you were bitten by a black widow or you develop muscle cramping, abdominal and chest pain, high blood pressure, a racing heart, and/or vomiting within two hours of a bite, go to the ER immediately, Arnold says.

A post shared by Ashley Parsons (@ashley_parsons) on Jul 13, 2015 at 10:00am PDT

The brown recluse (also known as the fiddleback spider or violin spider) is one of the most venomous spiders in America, but they are limited to very specific geographic regions—if you don’t live in one of these places, it’s highly unlikely you need to worry about this type of bite, Vetter says. (Check out this map to see if you’re in the danger zone.)

And despite what you may have heard, even where brown recluses are present, they rarely bite, he adds. To identify a brown recluse, look for six eyes arranged in pairs. (Although getting close enough to see the eye pattern on a spider sounds, frankly, terrifying.)

Brown recluse bites do happen though, and when they do, they are often described by «sharp burning pain,» Arnold explains. Within several hours, the bite area becomes discolored and forms an ulcer that can takes several weeks to heal. In addition to the wound, individuals can also develop fevers, muscle aches, and in rare cases, severe anemia as a result of the venom.

Start by treating any bite at home with cold compresses and an antibiotic cream, but if you start to show severe symptoms, including a lot of swelling, increased pain, fever, spreading rash or other sign of infection, get medical attention immediately, he adds. There isn’t an antivenin, but they can treat the symptoms and manage the infection.

A post shared by Evan (@eplevinski) on Sep 13, 2013 at 8:52am PDT

The hobo spider is actually a pretty common venomous house spider in the U.S., but despite some scary media reports, they’re not aggressive and will only bite if provoked, according to the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, about half of hobo spider bites are «dry,» meaning they contain no venom, the service adds.

If you do receive a venomous bite, within a few hours it will become red and hard, similar to a mosquito bite, and within a day or two will develop blisters. After the blisters open, a scab typically forms along with a rash that often looks like a target or bull’s eye.

Because these wounds can become necrotic (as in, infected to the point they start killing surrounding tissue) and can last for years in some cases, you should see a doctor immediately, Arnold says. There isn’t an antivenin but they can treat the symptoms and manage any infection with antibiotics.

Hobo spiders can be hard to identify, according to the Forest Service. They are large and often have chevron-type markings on their backs, but these won’t be visible on darker-skinned adult spiders, which is why it’s important to get any bite checked out if it starts to show signs of infection or you see a target forming on your skin, Arnold says.

A post shared by Chrissy (@porcelainbones84) on Mar 24, 2013 at 11:47am PDT

Tarantulas may look big and scary, but most of the North American varieties are pretty chill. And even while the bite itself can be painful, the venom is fairly benign and likely won’t cause long-term issues, Arnold says. Like most spider bites, tarantula bites can cause some swelling, itching, and irritation.

However, he adds, tarantulas also have the ability to flick hairs off of their body and into your skin, which can be very irritating and painful. And some people are allergic to tarantula venom, which can make the bite even more inflamed, according to the National Institutes of Medicine.

Most of the time, it’s fine to try treating these at home by washing the site, applying ice, and taking ibuprofen, he says. But if you find yourself having a more extreme reaction, including symptoms like rapid heart rate or difficulty breathing, get to the emergency room.


10 signs you have a spider bite — and what to do if you have one

  • There are more than 40,000 different types of spiders in the world.
  • Itching, redness, and swelling are among the most common signs of a spider bite.
  • Spider bites should be cleaned with warm water and mild soap promptly to avoid infection.
  • In the case you’ve been bitten by a poisonous spider, visit the doctor immediately.
See also:  When To Worry About A Spider Bite On Toddler?

Even if you can’t see them, spiders are everywhere. The eight-legged arachnids can survive in almost any habitat and climate. At some point or another, you may encounter one of these creatures in your home or out in the wild. After all, the US National Library of Medicine reports that there are more than 40,000 kinds of spiders worldwide . Although spiders are generally afraid of humans, it’s not uncommon for the web-spinners to bite if they feel threatened.

The severity of your bite wound will vary depending on what type of spider bit you. Some spider bites are harmless, while others not so much. You will likely know right away if you have been bitten by a poisonous spider like a brown recluse spider or the infamous black widow spider. The bite and the surrounding area will be painful and will continue to feel worse with time.

This is just one of the signs of a poisonous spider bite. If you’ve been bitten by a spider and are experiencing breathing issues, stomach cramps, or pain, seek medical help right away, according to the Mayo Clinic . You should always get medical attention if you think you have a poisonous spider caused the bite.

But, for the most part, you won’t need to take a trip to the doctor for your spider bite unless you have any of the below symptoms. If you have a spider bite that’s not so bad, make sure to clean it out with warm water and mild soap. Once it’s been washed out, put a dab or two of antibiotic ointment on the bite and it should clear up within a few days. The Mayo Clinic also recommends elevating the area of your body where the bite is.

Here are the 10 signs of a spider bite.

You have pain near the bite.

This is one of the top signs that you have a poisonous spider bite. Pain from a black widow spider bite usually shows up about 60 minutes after the initial bite. The pain can make its way from the wound to your abdomen, back, or chest, according to the Mayo Clinic . A brown recluse spider bite will also bring about pain, but it’s a gradual process that usually takes about eight hours to rear its horns. Not all pain is harmful, though. A wolf spider bite will cause pain but is not toxic.

Over-the-counter pain relieving medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also bring relief, according to the Mayo Clinic . Talk to your doctor before treating the wound.

You can’t stop sweating.

Profuse and heavy sweating can be a sign of a poisonous spider bite. Sweating occurs when the venom from the bite starts to impact the nervous system. One study conducted by researchers in Albania found that 56.9% of people with a spider bite experienced sweating. In some patients, sweating started within 30 minutes after the bite where in others it was 60 minutes or more.

You can’t stop itching a certain area of your body.

Tarantulas may look scary, but the hairy spiders are not poisonous. Tarantula bites, however, can cause an allergic reaction, according to US News & World Report . As a result, the bite and surrounding area may become itchy. This is a common sign of a spider bite.

A rash starts to develop.

A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that a bite from poisonous brown recluse spider can cause a rash or ulcer to form in the bite spot. This is not true of all spider bites, but if you notice this symptom, visit a doctor right away.

You feel hot or have the chills.

If you have a spider bite and don’t treat it fast, it may trigger a fever or chills. A rise in your body temperature can mean that you were bitten by a poisonous spider. A spider’s venom can destroy the tissue in the area of the bite and trigger your body into a fever, according to Healthline . Chills occur when the body starts to fight off an infection.

You are experiencing swelling

Venom from a spider can cause the bite to swell. This is a common sign of a spider bite, especially if you are also experiencing pain and redness. You should place ice or a wet compress on the impacted area to help reduce the amount of swelling, according to the US National Library of Medicine .

You develop a blister.

Most spiders in the US won’t typically cause blisters as the result of a bite, but brown recluse spiders will. To treat the infection, clean the blister and surrounding area with warm water and mild soap. Apply an antibiotic cream. This will help fight against infection. Make an appointment to see your doctor, especially if you notice the blister and surrounding area starting to turn blue, purple or black, according to WebMD .

Your muscles feel achy and are cramping.

Muscle spasms and cramps can occur if you have been bitten by a poisonous spider, like the black widow spider, according to MedBroadcast. The venom can also cause your muscles to ache. This usually begins in the area of the bite and occurs in 30 to 60 minutes after the bite.

You feel queasy.

Black widow and brown recluse spider bites can cause nausea or vomiting in some people, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center . This reaction will not usually happen if you were bitten by a non-poisonous spider.

You experience more severe symptoms like seizures, blood in your urine, and jaundice.

Other severe spider bite reactions can include kidney failure and can cause you to fall into a coma, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center . This is why it is important to seek medical help right away if you think you may have been bitten by a poisonous spider, like a brown recluse or black widow spider.

SEE ALSO: 5 reasons why you’re so scared of spiders

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