First aid: Spider bites
Only a few spiders are dangerous to humans. Two that are present in the contiguous United States, and more common in the Southern states, are the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. Both prefer warm climates and dark, dry places where flies are plentiful. They often live in dry, littered, undisturbed areas, such as closets, woodpiles and under sinks.
Most presumed spider bites are actually bites from other bugs. If you suspect you have been bitten by one of these spiders, check to see if the spider lives in your area.Black widow spider
Although serious, a black widow bite is rarely lethal. You can identify this spider by the red hourglass marking on its belly. The bite feels like a pinprick. You may not even know you've been bitten. At first you may notice slight swelling and faint red marks. Within a few hours, though, intense pain and stiffness begin. Other signs and symptoms include:
You can identify this spider by the violin-shaped marking on its back. The bite produces a mild stinging, followed by local redness and intense pain within eight hours. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to leave a deep, enlarging ulcer. Reactions from a brown recluse spider bite vary from a mild fever and rash to nausea and listlessness. On rare occasions death results, more often in children.If bitten by a spider
Try and identify the type of spider that bit you. Clean the site of the spider bite well with soap and water. Apply a cool compress over the spider bite location. If the bite is on an extremity, elevate it. Aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and antihistamines may be used to relieve minor signs and symptoms in adults. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.If bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider
Last Updated: 2012-02-14
© 1998-2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.com," "Mayo Clinic Health Information," "Reliable information for a healthier life" and the triple-shield Mayo logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Terms and conditions of use