When Should You See A Doctor For A Spider Bite?

Spider Bite

Contents

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Bite from a spider

Symptoms of a Spider Bite

  • Most spider bites cause local pain, redness and swelling. It’s much like a bee sting reaction.
  • A few spiders (such as the Black Widow) can cause a more severe reaction.
  • Helpful if spider seen on the skin or around the child

Cause of Spider Bite Reactions

  • Most spiders have tiny fangs. They inject venom into the skin.
  • The venom is what causes all the symptoms.

Types of Spider Bites

Black Widow Spider Bite

  • A shiny, jet-black spider with long legs (total size 1 inch or 25 mm).
  • A red (or orange) hourglass-shaped marking on its under-side.
  • Causes immediate local pain and swelling.
  • Sometimes, you can see 2 fang marks at the bite site.
  • Severe muscle cramps (especially stomach cramps) occur within 1 to 6 hours. These last 24 to 48 hours.
  • Rarely causes death. Exception: bitten by several spiders or small child is bitten.
  • Note: many are dry bites because the fangs are small.
  • The brown widow spider is related to the black widow. It is found in southern US.
  • Brown widow spider bites are treated the same as black widow bites.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

  • A brown spider with long legs (total size ½ inch or 12 mm).
  • A dark violin shaped marking on top of its head.
  • Causes pain at the bite. Blisters form within 4 to 8 hours.
  • The center becomes bluish and depressed (crater-like) over 2 to 3 days.
  • Skin damage may require skin grafting in 10% of cases.
  • Other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, muscle pain can occur. No life-threatening symptoms occur.
  • Brown recluse spiders are hard to identify. If you can, bring the spider along in a jar.

Non-dangerous Spider Bites

  • More than 50 spiders in the U.S. have venom. Their bites cause reactions that are not serious. This includes pain or redness at the bite site.
  • The bites are painful and swollen. This lasts for 1 or 2 days. They can feel and look like a bee sting.
  • Some single, unexplained, tender bites that occur during the night are due to spiders.

When to Call for Spider Bite

Call 911 Now

  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Passed out (fainted) or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • New redness starts more than 24 hours after the bite. Note: any redness in the first 24 hours is due to venom.
  • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness now getting larger
  • Bite starts to look bad (such as skin damage, blister or purple color)
  • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Non-serious spider bite

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

  • Bellevue
  • Everett
  • Federal Way
  • Seattle

Care Advice for Non-dangerous Spider Bites

  1. What You Should Know About Spider Bites:
    • Most spider bites look and feel like a bee sting.
    • The main symptoms are pain and redness.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Clean the Bite:
    • Wash the bite well with soap and water.
  3. Cold Pack for Pain:
    • For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
    • Put it on the bite for 20 minutes.
  4. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  5. What to Expect:
    • The swelling and pain lasts for 1 to 2 days.
    • It should not be any worse than a bee sting.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe bite pain lasts more than 2 hours after pain medicine
    • Stomach pains or muscle cramps occur
    • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days (48 hours)
    • Bite starts to look infected
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse
See also:  What Is The Biggest Spider In The Uk?

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 06/09/2020

Last Revised: 03/21/2020

Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

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    When to See a Doctor for a Spider Bite

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    Most spider bites are harmless. In fact, people usually don’t even notice when they’ve been bitten. Spider bite symptoms can be so subtle and non-specific—a red, inflamed bump that may be itchy—that it’s often difficult to determine whether the person was bitten by a spider or not. However, the bites of some spiders, including the black widow and brown recluse, can be deadly.

    Types of Spider Bites

    For health purposes, spider bites can be classified into two primary categories: poisonous spider bites and non-poisonous spider bites.

    The vast majority of spiders in the United States are not poisonous. The bites of these spiders are harmless, although they can trigger an allergic reaction or become infected.

    The two poisonous spiders that live in the United States are the black widow spider and brown recluse spider. Black widow spider bites tend to cause pain and cramping that usually start near the bite and spread throughout the body. Other black widow spider bite symptoms include nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal cramping, chills, fever and headache.

    A brown recluse bite may seem asymptomatic at first. However, the affected area usually becomes sore within 8 hours, and in some cases, the center of the bite swells, darkens, blisters and turns into an open sore over a week or so. Other symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include nausea, fever, chills and rash.

    Spider Bite Treatment at Home

    Most spider bites will heal without treatment. To prevention infection and increase comfort, you can:

    • Wash the affected area with soap and water.
    • Apply an ice pack or cool compress to decrease swelling and ease pain.
    • Consider over-the-counter (OTC) medication. If pain is interfering with activity or sleep, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) as directed on the packaging. An OTC antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can decrease itching.

    When to See a Doctor for a Spider Bite

    Go immediately to the nearest emergency room if you suspect the bite is due to a black widow or brown recluse spider. (Black widow spiders are found throughout the United States and feature an orange-red hourglass on their underbellies. Brown recluse spiders typically hide in dark, quiet places like wood piles and attics.) The bites of black widow and brown recluse spiders can be so serious that it’s important to get immediate medical attention, even if the affected person seems fine.

    An allergic reaction to a spider bite is another reason to seek medical care. Minor swelling at the site of a bite isn’t cause for the concern, but if the swelling seems to be spreading, it’s time to call a doctor. Call 911 if the affected person is having trouble breathing.

    Occasionally, an infection will develop at the site of a spider bite. If the bite looks worse rather than better as time goes on, or you notice pus and increased swelling, call your healthcare provider.

    Who to See for a Spider Bite

    Your primary care provider can handle most allergic reactions and infected spider bites. Emergency department personnel are best equipped to handle poisonous spider bites.

    Most spider bites won’t cause any serious health problems. However, it’s important to pay attention to symptoms and seek medical care as needed. When in doubt, consult your doctor.

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    See also:  What Are The Symptoms Of A Poisonous Spider Bite?

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    Spider Bites (Common Poisonous) Pictures, Symptoms, Treatment

    • Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    What should you know about spider bites?

    Most spiders in the US are harmless. However, black widow and brown recluse spider bites are dangerous, and sometimes life threatening. Black widow and brown recluse spider bites need immediate medical treatment.

    What are signs symptoms of spiders that aren’t poisonous?

    Spider bites are actually rare occurrences, and most presumed people that have been bitten by spider are likely due to another condition that mimics the symptoms or signs of a spider bite. Bites from most (non-poisonous) spiders cause local redness, irritation, and pain that usually can be treated at home.

    What are the symptoms and signs of black widow spider and black recluse spider bites?

    Black widow spider bite symptoms are immediate pain, burning, redness, and swelling. Other signs and symptoms of a black widow spider bite are a feeling of a pinprick, and sometimes double fang marks on the person where the spider bit. Often, a person does not know that a black widow spider has bitten them.

    Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite are a mild sting followed by severe pain and local redness that usually develops within eight hours or more after the bite. Some brown recluse spider bites may include a purple or blue area around the bite, which is surrounded by a whitish ring and a large outer ring in a bull’s eye pattern. A fluid blister then forms at the spider bite site, and then sloughs off revealing a deep ulcer that may turn black. Other signs and symptoms of a black widow or brown recluse spider bite may include abdominal or joint pain, fever, nausea, and headache.

    If you think that, you or someone you know has been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse spider, call 911 or go to the nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Department for treatment.

    First Aid for Stings and Bug Bites

    First Aid and Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings

    Most bug bites and stings are harmless, but some can cause debilitating or life threatening diseases. First aid for a minor but bite or sting include:

    • Remove a bee sting using a credit card to scrape it in a side to side motion.
    • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), and topical analgesics to help relieve pain and itching.

    Some people are highly allergic to some bug bites and stings, and they can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Some bugs can cause diseases like Lyme disease, which is caused by a tick bite.

    What are the first signs and symptoms of spider bites that aren’t not poisonous?

    • Bites from most (non-poisonous) spiders cause local redness, irritation, and pain that usually can be treated at home using an over-the-counterpain reliever along with application of cooling packs or a wet cloth to relieve swelling.
    • These local reactions usually resolve without treatment over a period of 7-10 days. Rarely, an individual can have an allergic reaction to a spider bite, even to a bite from a non-poisonous spider, but allergic reactions are more likely to be due to contact with a spider than from a spider bite.

    SLIDESHOW

    What are the signs and symptoms of a black widow spider bites (pictures)?

    • A black widow spider bite is said to feel like a pinprick, although victims may not realize that they have been bitten.
    • Sometimes double fang marks may be seen at the location of the bite.
    • The most common localized symptoms of a black widow spider bite include
      • immediate pain,
      • burning,
      • swelling, and
      • redness around the bite.

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    What are the signs and symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite (pictures)?

    The bite of a brown recluse spider leads to a mild stinging, followed by local redness and severe pain that usually develops within eight hours but may occur later. Some reports of brown recluse bites describe a blue or purple area around the bite, surrounded by a whitish ring and large red outer ring in a «bull’s eye» pattern. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to reveal a deep ulcer that may turn black.

    IMAGES

    Can black widow or brown recluse spider bite symptoms be the same?

    Generalized symptoms of bites from black widow and brown recluse spiders may include:

    • Fever
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Headache
    • Abdominal pain
    • Joint pain or stiffness
    • Feelings of malaise
    • Rash
    • Muscle tension or cramping

    Rarely, black widow spider bites are fatal; however, a few individuals have died from brown recluse spider bites, which are more common in children than in adults.

    If a spider was not observed inflicting the bite, it is difficult if not impossible to determine whether a spider bite occurred, since many conditions of the skin may produce the same symptoms as a spider bite. Streptococcal and Staphylococcal infections, early lesions of herpes simplex or zoster, burns, stings or bites from other arthropods or insects (including fleas, bedbugs, mosquitos, biting flies, ants, and ticks), thorn injury, and early Lyme disease all may be characterized by skin findings similar to those from a spider bite.

    See also:  How To Make Spider Web Fluid?

    Spiders rarely bite people, and only if threatened. People often thing they have spider bites when the irritation is from another cause.

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    Are spider bites dangerous?

    Most spiders do not have mouth parts strong enough to penetrate human skin, and the majority of spiders found in the U.S. and are actually harmless. There are two notable exceptions, the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider, which are both dangerous to humans. Spider bites are fortunately uncommon. In many cases, presumed spider bites are actually due to another skin condition or an insect sting.

    The black widow and brown recluse spiders are more common in the southern states of the U.S. They prefer warm, dry climates and undisturbed areas such as basements, closets, woodpiles, attics, or under sinks. The black widow spider is a small, black, shiny spider with a red hourglass marking on its belly. The brown recluse spider is sometimes termed a «violin spider.» It is about an inch long and has a marking resembling a violin on the upper part of its back. Bites from both the black widow and brown recluse spiders are dangerous to humans and require prompt emergency medical care.

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    What should you do if a spider bites you?

    • Wash the site of the spider bite well with soap and water.
    • Apply a cool compress or ice pack over the spider bite location.
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to relieve symptoms. (Remember, not to give aspirin to children; use acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead).
    • Call the doctor or seek emergency treatment if the victim is a young child, if you think the bite may have been from a black widow or brown recluse spider, if any signs of an allergic reaction occur, if the bite area becomes infected, or if the victim develops a rash or severe illness.
    • If possible, retrieve the spider and bring it with you to the health care practitioner so that it can be definitively identified.
    • A tetanus booster shot may be necessary, depending upon the date of the patient’s last immunization.

    What should you do if a black widow or brown recluse spider bites you?

    • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
    • Elevate the area to prevent spread of the venom.
    • Tie a snug bandage above the area (if on an arm or leg) to further reduce spread of the venom, but do not make the bandage too tight that it impairs the blood circulation.
    • Always seek immediate emergency medical care. An anti-venom medication is sometimes given for black widow spider bites. Doctors’ use different types of medications to treat spider bites, including pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and/or corticosteroids. Sometimes hospitalization is required after black widow or brown recluse spider bites.
    • If possible, retrieve the spider and bring it with you to the health care practitioner so that it can be definitively identified.
    • A tetanus booster shot may be necessary, depending upon the date of the patient’s last immunization.
    • Calling the Poison Control Center (24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.) allows you to reach toxicology experts who can work with a health care provider in establishing the proper diagnosis and management of a spider bite.

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