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First Aid for Spider Bites

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Spider Bites are wounds or reactions caused by contact with a spider. It is generally a very uncommon incident.

What is Spider Bites?

  • Spider Bites are wounds or reactions caused by contact with a spider. It is generally a very uncommon incident
  • Most spiders do not have the ability to puncture human skin with a bite; however, some spider species can inflict a painful bite and inject venom

What are the Causes of Spider Bites?

There are several thousands of species of spiders living all over the world. However, only a few are known to be toxic to humans (and having painful bites). Some of these include:

  • Black widow spider (red hourglass marking on belly)
  • Brown recluse spider (violin-shaped markings on back, found in the US)
  • Tarantula (found all over the world in tropical climates)
  • Wandering spider (Brazil)
  • Funnel web spider (Australia)

Spiders generally bite on provocation (while defending their habitat), which may be unintentional or inadvertent, or when they are surprised suddenly.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Spider Bites?

The signs and symptoms of Spider Bites depend on the species of spider involved and it can vary from one individual to another. In general, the signs and symptoms may include:

  • Swelling at the bite site
  • Red marks
  • Intense pain
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stiffness
  • Skin rash; fluid-filled blisters
  • Deep ulceration, after some time
  • Muscle contraction from effects of the toxin/venom

How is First Aid administered for Spider Bites?

First Aid tips for Spider Bites: This can depend on the type or species of spider involved (if established).

  • Clean the bite site with soap and water
  • Try to identify the spider
  • Elevate the limb, if bite is on the extremities
  • Consider taking antihistamine for allergic reactions and aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve pain
  • Seek medical advice, before giving any kind of medications to children
  • Apply a tight bandage slightly above the bite site to stop spreading of venom. However, care must be taken to ensure that the bandage does not stop blood flow
  • Put a wet, cold cloth or an ice pack on the bite site
  • Seek medical help
  • If possible, take the spider (or parts of it) to the healthcare facility for identification

Who should administer First Aid for Spider Bites?

The individual who is affected, or someone near should administer initial first aid, following which one should seek medical help.

What is the Prognosis of Spider Bites?

  • The prognosis is dependent on the type of spider involved, location of bite, the severity of reaction, and the overall health of the individual
  • In most cases, the prognosis of Spider Bites is typically good

How can Spider Bites be Prevented?

Spider Bites may be prevented by:

  • Avoid being outdoors at night in forested areas
  • Use pest control in areas where the spiders are found in large numbers
  • Use insect repellent such as DEET
  • Wear clothes that cover the entire body while outdoors in the evenings or at nights
  • Avoid wearing clothes or shoes that have been lying around undisturbed for a while, without first inspecting them thoroughly
  • Do not reach into dark nooks/corners/recesses of the house with your bare hands/foot
  • Do not let clutter accumulate in various parts of the house (such as in the cellar, garage, closets, etc.)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency help number), if the condition is serious
  • Administer antihistamines, if the individual has an allergic reaction

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 10, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018