What Does It Look Like When You Get Bit By A Spider?
Spiders That Bite
- 1 Spiders That Bite
- 2 Spider Bites: What You Need to Know
- 2.1 Are They Poisonous?
- 2.2 What Do Bites Look Like?
- 2.3 Black Widows
- 2.4 Whats a Black Widow Bite Like?
- 2.5 Brown Recluse
- 2.6 Whats a Brown Recluse Bite Like?
- 2.7 Tarantulas
- 2.8 False Black Widow
- 2.9 Hobo Spider
- 2.10 What to Do
- 2.11 When to See a Doctor
- 2.12 Treatment for Black Widow Bites
- 2.13 Treatment for Brown Recluse Bites
- 2.14 Allergic Reactions
- 2.15 How to Prevent a Spider Bite
- 3 Q/A
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.
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.
Spider Bites: What You Need to Know
Are They Poisonous?
Spiders are blamed for all kinds of things that turn out to be skin infections or some other bugвЂ™s fault. Most donвЂ™t even have fangs long enough to break your skin. When they do bite, they’re typically harmless. In the U.S., only the black widow and brown recluse have venom strong enough to really hurt you. And their bites are rarely deadly to humans.
What Do Bites Look Like?
TheyвЂ™re pretty much just like an insect bite. For the most part, you canвЂ™t tellВ a spider bit you just from your symptoms. YouвЂ™ll get a little bump on your skin. It might get red, itchy, and swell up a bit. It might hurt, but no more than a bee sting and usually not for more than an hour or so. ThatвЂ™s basically it — unless you’re bitten by a venomous spider.
This spiderвЂ™s telltale sign is the red hourglass shape on the bottom of its big, round abdomen — the back part of the body. Black widows are shiny and black and about half an inch long. You can find them anywhere in North America, but mostly theyвЂ™re in the southern and western areas in the U.S. They like quiet, out-of-the-way places like closets, sheds, garages, and woodpiles.
Whats a Black Widow Bite Like?
The bite feels like a pinprick, so you may not notice it. The first signs might be small, red marks with some swelling. Within an hour, itвЂ™ll hurt a little more, and the pain might spread to your back, belly, and chest. You might have stomach cramps, and your belly might feel a little stiff. You may also sweat a lot. In serious cases, you can have trouble breathing, along with a fast heart rate, nausea, and vomiting. The area around the bite may continue toВ get redder and more swollen.
People sometimes say to look for the small violin shape on the part of the body where the legs attach, but thatвЂ™s easy to get wrong. Check the eyes instead. Most spiders have eight eyes in two rows of four. Here, look for six eyes: two in front, and two on each side. They live mostly in the southern Midwest and parts of the South. They like to stay indoors, tucked away deep in the stuff in your basement or attic.
Whats a Brown Recluse Bite Like?
You might feel a little sting at first, but itвЂ™ll hurt more over the next 8 hours. You also might see a small white blister that has a red ring around it, like a bullseye. Sometimes, the skin in the middle of the bite can turn blue or purple, and you may have an open sore that gets bigger for up to 10 days. It doesnвЂ™t happen often, but some people also have other symptoms like fever, chills, rash, and an upset stomach.
Their big, hairy look is much worse than their bite. At least this is true for the ones in the U.S., where you find them mostly in the Southwest. Make no mistake, their bite hurts, sometimes for up to a week. It might also get red and warm, but thatвЂ™s the worst of it. Some types of tarantulas can also flick fine barbed hairs from their belly at you. If these stick in your skin, they can cause itching, swelling, and irritation.
False Black Widow
These look a lot like black widows, but they donвЂ™t have the red hourglass. And their color ranges from purplish-brown to black. They like to cozy up in homes along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. Pain from their bite can get worse in the first hour and you may get some blisters around it. It might make you feel generally sick with a headache or an upset stomach, but this will pass within a few days.
At one point, these were thought to be really dangerous, like the brown recluse. But the past 15 years of research says theyвЂ™re mostly harmless. You wonвЂ™t get much more than some redness and mild pain, and maybe some swelling. TheyвЂ™re found in the Pacific Northwest, usually in places like woodpiles and retaining walls. They often have a light stripe running down the middle of their bodies.В
What to Do
The first steps are the same for all spider bites, even those from a black widow or brown recluse. Clean the area with soap and water and put on some antibiotic cream. Then take a cloth and wet it with cold water or wrap it around some ice and put that on the bite. If you were bitten on your arm or leg, raise it up. You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and an antihistamine for swelling.
When to See a Doctor
Get checked out right away if you have symptoms beyond the bite, like serious pain in your belly, cramps, throwing up, or trouble breathing. You also should see your doctor if you have an open sore or a bullseye mark, or if the bite gets worse after 24 hours. Look out for things like pain around the bite getting worse, redness thatвЂ™s spreading, and fluid coming from the bite. If you can do it safely, take the spider with you, even if itвЂ™s dead.
Treatment for Black Widow Bites
You may get prescription drugs to ease the pain and relax your muscles. ThereвЂ™s an antivenom for black widows, but itвЂ™s rarely used because some people have a serious reaction to it. And itвЂ™s almost never really needed. ItвЂ™s saved for more serious bites in the very young, very old, or people who have other health issues.В
Treatment for Brown Recluse Bites
This is mostly about managing the wound so it doesnвЂ™t get infected. If you have a bump and redness, your doctor might recommend antihistamines or a cream to help with swelling and itchiness. For an open sore, you need to clean it daily and use antibiotic cream. From there, you should keep an eye on things, especially for symptoms beyond the bite, like fever or chills.
ItвЂ™s not very common, but just like with bee stings, some people are allergic to spider bites. Watch for swelling in your face or mouth, trouble talking or swallowing, tightness in your chest, or trouble breathing. If you feel any of these symptoms or see them in someone youвЂ™re with, get help right away.
How to Prevent a Spider Bite
If youвЂ™re poking around in woodpiles, sheds, attics, and other areas, wear long sleeves andВ a hat, and tuck your pantsВ into your socks. Make sure to shake out work gloves, boots, and clothes you havenвЂ™t used in a while, because spiders can hide in them, too. And donвЂ™t keep rocks, lumber, or firewood near your house. Inside, donвЂ™t put your bed directly against the wall, and donвЂ™t store things under it.
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.
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.»
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.
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.