How to Give First Aid for a Spider Bite

Giving First Aid For a Spider Bite

Edited and Published by Wellness Monster Mark

The Terror: You’ve been bitten By A Spider!

It could happen to anyone, and has happened to many people. A spider bite is not something to scoff at or ignore. If the origin of the spider is unknown, take caution and act swiftly. There are a vast number of spider types ranging from the common household spider to venomous spiders. Either way, a spider bite should be attended as quickly as possible.

How to Treat the Spider Bite: Identifying the Bite and Initial Response

The first thing anyone should do once they have noticed that they have been bitten by any type of insect is to wash the bite immediately. Reactions to spider bites can be anything from a slight swelling in the immediate area to severe pain, abdominal cramping or rapidly growing swelling at the bite site. If a severe reaction occurs, emergency care should be sought immediately. If the type of spider is unknown, immediately seek a medical professional.

The two most common poisonous spiders in the United States are the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. The Black Widow is easily identified by its black body and the hourglass mark on its belly. This spider is most common in the southern states. The Brown Recluse is recognized as a brown spider with what appears to be a violin on its back. This may not always be easy to see. The Brown Recluse is most common in the central and southern states.

Symptoms of a Black Widow bite are at first slight swelling and a faint red mark. This could easily be the same for a non-poisonous spider so monitor closely. Additional signs include intense pain and stiffness as well as severe abdominal pain or cramping followed by chills, fever and nausea. If any of these symptoms are experienced, seek medical assistance immediately.

The symptoms of a bite from a Brown Recluse may include mild pain. Again, this is not much different from a non-poisonous spider bite, so monitor closely if the source of the bite is unknown. Redness and intense pain will follow, however, a deep blue or purple area around the bite that turns into a red ring around the bite is a tell-tale sign that the Brown Recluse is most likely the culprit ( Seek medical assistance immediately if this occurs.

Clean the Affected Area and Continue to Treat

treating a spider bite

Regardless if the type of spider is known, the first thing to do after a spider bite occurs is wash the wound. A mild soap should be used and apply an antibiotic. Once clean, apply a cool compress. This will help to reduce pain and swelling. If the bite is on a leg or arm, elevate the limb. If the wound is itchy, use an over the counter pain medication such as Benadryl.

Most spider bites do not break the skin, but if the skin is broken, follow the above steps to clean and treat the wound. Children most commonly fall victim to insect bites. A good tip to keep children from being bitten is to have them wear long sleeve shirts and pants when playing in places where spiders are likely to be [e.g. garages, attics and woodpiles] ( Brown Recluses and Black Widows tend to seek out dark places. They can most commonly be found in wood piles and under stones. Brown Recluses are known to make their homes in shoes left outside. To prevent these types of dangerous bites, never leave shoes outside. If shoes are left outside, either throw them away without wearing them or thoroughly look them over before wearing them again. A common Brown Recluse spider bite is on the toe. The Brown Recluse are not aggressive and will only bite when threatened, such as when pressed against the victim’s skin (

As the Black Widow is common in gardens, always wear gloves when working in the yard. Black Widows, just like the Brown Recluse, are not normally aggressive spiders but will bite if they feel threatened. The best advice to keep from having a severe reaction to a poisonous spider bite is to avoid the spider in the first place. These two dangerous spiders will leave us alone if they are left alone.

Note: Antibiotic ointment is typically applied to affected spider bite regions after they are cleaned, provided they are non-life threatening (not a black widow or brown recluse).

Final Step: Wrap it Up

The thing to remember with spider bites is not to wait until it is too late. Immediately wash the wound and put cold pressure on the bite. If excessive swelling appears, or pain, seek professional medical assistance immediately. Do not wait. Just like any reaction that includes vomiting or a rash, the best thing to do is get help. However, if the bite is a simple spider bite, then a home treatment of cleaning, ice and elevation are all that should be needed.

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Photo Credits:

Spider [ID 37787415 © Petro Perutskyy |]

Applying Ointment to a Spider Bite [Photo 73864630 © Leonardo Briganti –]