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Spider Bite: Symptoms and Treatment

Madhavi Ghare
Is a spider bite poisonous? What are the treatment options available for spider bites? The following story provides information on the symptoms and first aid treatment for spider bites.


Spiders mostly feed on smaller insects. However, there are a few larger species that prey on mice or small birds. Spiders bite humans only when they feel threatened or when humans accidentally step on them. Thus, spiders bite human beings in self-defense.
When spiders hunt, they inject venom into their intended prey in order to immobilize them. Bites of certain species of spiders can produce serious symptoms which require medical treatment. But, not all bites are harmful.
Before taking a look at the spider bite symptoms and treatment, let us know some more about spider bites.

Venomous and Non-venomous Spiders

The common house spider is not dangerous or poisonous. However, it can bite if it feels threatened. The bite of a house spider is similar to a flea bite and does not lead to any other serious symptom. On the contrary, the Brazilian wandering spider or the banana spider is one of the deadliest spiders known to man.
This spider looks like a tarantula and is very aggressive. The bite of this spider is venomous and extremely painful. These spiders are found in South and Central America.
The Hobo spider, commonly found in Europe, can only attack if it is crushed or squeezed. In the United States of America, two species of spiders, whose bites are considered to be poisonous, are the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider.
Both these variety of spiders prefer dry, warm climates and areas which are often undisturbed such as basements, closets, attics, and woodpiles.Both these variety of spiders prefer dry, warm climates and areas which are often undisturbed such as basements, closets, attics, and woodpiles.
A black widow spider can be identified by a red hourglass marking on its belly. Its body is shiny and black. It is small in size. On the other hand, the brown recluse spider has a violin-shaped marking on its back. It is an inch longer than the black widow spider.


Spider bites are often mistaken as flea or bed bug bites, and hence, are ignored. However, apart from redness and swelling, many other signs and symptoms are observed in case of these bites. When bitten by any of these spiders, it is best to contact a medical practitioner immediately. Following are the symptoms caused due to some common species.

Common Symptoms

The common symptoms observed due to spider bites include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, joint pain, muscle cramps, and rashes.

Black Widow Spider Bite Symptoms

These include immediate pain, swelling, burning and redness in the area of the bite. The bite itself may feel like a pinprick. Often, marks resembling double fang bites can be seen.
Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms
These include mild stinging sensation, redness in the area of the bite. This can be followed by severe pain that develops within eight hours of the bite. Often, the area around the bite may become blue or purple, and is surrounded by a whitish ring enclosed in a reddish ring. Blisters and ulcers may even develop in the bite area.
Brazilian Wandering Spider Bite Symptoms
As mentioned above, this is one of the deadliest spiders in the world, whose bite can be lethal. Symptoms include severe or excruciating pain, inflammation, paralysis and even death.


Initially, one should try and identify the cause of the bite. Here are a few first aid tips for treating spider bites:
  • Wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
  • Apply an ice pack or a cool compress over the area of the bite.
  • Use pain relief medication and call the doctor immediately.
In case you are bitten by the black widow spider or the brown recluse spider, then follow the procedure given below:
  • Wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
  • Raise the body part of the area of the bite in order to prevent the spread of venom into the body.
  • Tie a bandage over the area of the bite so as to prevent the spread of the venom into the body. However, ensure that the bandage does not prevent blood flow.
  • Call the doctor immediately.

Get the Doctor's Assistance

It is essential to watch out for skin rashes, reactions and infections. Hospitalization may be required in case of spider bites from the black widow or the brown recluse spider. Similarly, the victim should be taken to the doctor immediately, if the symptoms worsen even after taking the first aid.
Anti-venom medication is required in order to treat symptoms caused due to the poisonous spider bites.
Spider bites can be poisonous and even dangerous. It is essential to note that over-the-counter medication like pain killers should NOT be taken without consulting the doctor. It is only wise to call your doctor immediately when you are bitten by a spider so that he can provide you with the correct medical treatment.


This story is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.