Common Spider Bite Symptoms and What to Watch For

If you notice an insect bite on your arm, one of the first thoughts you may have is to identify it. Is it from a mosquito or spider? And should you be worried about it?

Once you’re familiar with spider bites, it gets easier to identify. Generally, you can take care of spider bites with home care. However, there are some that you should watch out for.

Keep reading to find out about poisonous spiders, spider bite symptoms, and when you should seek medical attention. Get a better understanding of how to distinguish between bite types. And what environments to avoid to limit bite risks.

Are All Spider Bites the Same?

Out of 3,000 spiders that live in the United States, most of them aren’t venomous. So the likelihood of getting bitten by a venomous spider is slim.

Furthermore, spiders have small and weak fangs. If a spider did manage a bite, it is hard for them to puncture human skin. Yet, some manage to take bites out of people. The bites are generally small and itchy red wounds that heal quickly.

However, some bites are a little more serious.

Spider Bite Symptoms

You may not notice spider bites until hours after. Some common symptoms include:

  • red welt
  • swelling
  • skin damage

The symptoms typically stop here for harmless spider bites. However, some people may have other symptoms from a bite.

Having any of these symptoms may be indicative of a venomous spider bite. They include:

  • sweating
  • itching
  • rash
  • cramping
  • muscle pain
  • red or purple blister
  • pain surrounding bite area
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • anxiety or restlessness
  • chills
  • rashes
  • high blood pressure
  • swollen lymph glands

These spider bite symptoms are a result of severe bites in which a spider injects its venom. The severity depends on different factors like:

  • venom amount injected
  • type of spider
  • body sensitivity to venom

Bites from dangerous spiders are relatively rare. But the risk factor increases if you live in their known habitats or if you disturb them.

Treating Spider Bites at Home

If you have a nonvenomous bite, there are a few things you can do at home to treat it.

Take an Antihistamine

Try diphenhydramine like Benadryl to soothe itching.

Clean with Soap and Water

Clean the bite area with soap and water as soon as you notice it. The bite is an open wound and susceptible to infection.

Use a Topical Antibiotic

If the bite area develops a blister, apply an antibiotic ointment to combat potential infections.

Ice the Bite

Additionally, ice pack application may help reduce some bite swelling. Apply it on and off in 10-minute increments.

Elevation

Depending on the bite location, you may also elevate the area to reduce swelling.

Spiders to Watch Out For

Most common household spiders are relatively harmless. However, watch out for these venomous spiders and their known habitats:

Black Widow Spiders

Black widow spiders are generally found in warm climates in Southern and Western United States and in secluded spaces. Only the females are toxic and their bite symptoms occur almost immediately. They include:

  • numbness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • restlessness
  • high blood pressure
  • muscle cramping
  • burning and pain around the bite mark
  • headache
  • increase in sweating and saliva

Get treatment right away if bitten by a black widow. Children and older adults are especially vulnerable.

Brown Recluse

These spiders aren’t naturally aggressive. However, they will bite if trapped against your skin. They are found mainly in the South and the East and enjoy dark, secluded spaces.

If you’re bitten by a brown recluse, you may not feel anything at first. Spider bite symptoms like itching and pain happen within 8 hours of the bite. Eventually, a purple or red ring will develop around the bite.

The symptoms may get worse without treatment and can include chills, headache, fever, and tissue death around the bitten tissue. Unfortunately, though, there’s no antidote for the bite.

Tarantula

You may be familiar with tarantulas. But did you know that their favored environment is desert climates? Tarantulas are mainly found in the Southwestern states. And they like to burrow under stones, logs, tunnels, burrows, and tree trunks.

Tarantulas aren’t aggressive, and their bites aren’t dangerous. For many people, tarantula bites are like bee stings. However, seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • rapid heart rate
  • itching
  • swelling
  • rash
  • trouble breathing
  • eyelid puffiness
  • low blood pressure

Hobo Spiders

The Pacific Northwest is home to the hobo spider. They like to hang out under baseboards, behind furniture, and in closets. And they attack when provoked.

The symptoms of a hobo spider bite are relatively distinctive. At first, you may feel nothing. But within 15 minutes, pain and numbness may set in. The bite site will turn red after an hour.

After eight hours, the bite progresses to become swollen and hardened. And one day after the bite, the puncture may discharge fluids. It may also turn black.

The bites are slow to heal, so seek medical attention immediately if bitten by a hobo spider.

Wolf Spider

In addition, wolf spiders are relatively common all over the United States. They may look like tarantulas but their bite is slightly different. And they are not venomous.

They like to hang around in gravel and sand. You may also encounter them in house plants and around house openings like windows and doors.

The bite symptoms include redness, pain, and swelling. And they can take up to 10 days to heal.

Prevention

One of the best ways to prevent spider bites is to avoid their preferred habitats. Also learn what the dangerous ones look like and how to spot them.

Also, wear appropriate clothing like hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants in socks when going into spider habitats. At home, many spiders like to lurk in garages, basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Furthermore, if you haven’t used any boots, gloves, and clothing in a while, remember to shake them out. They are favorite spider hiding places.

Final Thought

Spiders generally bite only in defense. So try to avoid provoking them. If you go into an area that venomous spiders prefer, try to take precautions and wear the appropriate clothing.

Additionally, you can help to keep them out of your home by sealing up cracks that spiders can crawl through. Install screens on doors and windows to keep them out. And use insecticides that are safe to use indoors.

Lastly, most spiders are not venomous. However, if you suspect your bite is from a venomous spider, you may want to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Especially if you know that your body is sensitive to spider venom.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/spider-bites
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spider-bites/symptoms-causes/syc-20352371
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4614586/

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