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First Aid for Spider Bites

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While we often hear about the severe effects of spider bites, most of them are nothing to worry about and require little treatment.

With a little time, they’ll heal naturally.  Many spider bites are actually mistaken for bites from mosquitoes and other insects.  A spider bite can normally be identified by two injection sites instead of one, which are made by two small fangs.

Almost all spiders are venomous; however, very few are actually dangerous to humans.  For most spiders, there is a small reaction that heals with time.  If you are bitten by a spider you know is not dangerous (or if you’re not sure), there are a few things you can do to make yourself feel better:

* Wash the bite with soap and water.  Just like any other cut or piercing wound, there is a chance of infection unrelated to the spider’s venom.  You want to make sure to keep the wound clean and free from bacteria.  You should also apply an antibiotic ointment.

* Take an antihistamine.  This will help reduce allergic reaction and reduce swelling and itching.

* Take medication for any pain.  Acetaminophen is generally effective to reduce pain and swelling; adults may also try aspirin.

* Apply a wet washcloth or ice pack.  This will reduce swelling and keep the venom from spreading.

If you can safely catch the spider that bit you, you should attempt to trap and identify it to make sure it is not venomous.  If you did not see the spider, you needn’t worry about it unless you have symptoms that indicate a larger problem.

If the spider bite victim is under six years old, if you identify the spider as being dangerous, if you have severe symptoms, or if the problem seems to be getting worse, you should see a doctor for additional treatment.

Symptoms associated with dangerous spider bites normally include headache, fever, muscle ache, nausea, and tissue dying around the bite.

There are some types of spider bites that do require treatment, but you’ll probably never encounter most of them.  Here are a few you may:

Black widow spiders: These spiders are small and black, and easily identified by the large, red, hourglass shape on their backs.  Symptoms of a black widow bite are immediate pain and swelling of the bite, headache, dizziness, weakness, tremors, anxiousness, sweating, nausea, tearing, muscle cramping, and even paralysis.

If you think you’ve been bitten by a black widow, administer the first aid as directed for other spider bites and contact a doctor immediately for further treatment.

Brown recluse spiders: This is a small, brown spider identified by a violin-shaped marking on its back.  They usually prefer small, dark, dry spaces.  Symptoms of a brown recluse bite are usually delayed and include pain, itching, burning, and redness at the bite.

This will eventually grow into a bull’s eye and develop a black blister.  You may also have a fever, headache, muscle ache, nausea and vomiting.

In addition to the first aid above, you should also elevate the area of the bite and contact a doctor.

2 Responses to First Aid for Spider Bites

  1. Herbal Cures June 11, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    Those are good tips, and for those of us who prefer a more natural remedy, you can make a charcoal paste (charcoal and a little water) and wrap it in some tissue (1-ply) and apply that to the bite. Charcoal is great at drawing out poison.

    • Dee June 11, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

      Great tip! I use charcoal on a regular basis for digestive flu, upset and food poisoning – it’s a wonder substance! 🙂

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