- First Aid
Treating Spider Bites at Home
Every year, thousands of people are bitten by spiders, and believe it or not, the majority may never even realize it. Spider bites are common, but only a very small percentage is bad enough to require a trip to a doctor or emergency room. By knowing how to effectively treat a spider bite at home, you can avoid a needless and costly medical bill.
Recognizing a Spider Bite
Spider bites will generally form a small red bump and cause a good deal of itching. In a child, the redness and swelling may be even more pronounced than on an adult. Serious medical problems are rare and are usually caused by an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction could include hives, rashes, wheezing and possibly fainting.
Except among highly sensitive people, the spiders that cause the most health issues in the United States are black widows and brown recluse spiders. These spiders are easily identifiable by distinctive markings.
- Black widow spiders are usually large (about a 2 inch leg span), black and have a red, hour-glass shape on the underbelly. The black widow is considered more dangerous than the brown recluse, especially among small children.
- Brown recluse spiders are a bit smaller and brown in color. They can be identified by a violin shape on the middle section of their backs, right behind the head.
Preventing a Spider Bite
Ideally, it is better to take precautions against getting a spider bite in the first place, rather than dealing with the symptoms of a bite after it happens.
- When you are going to be in an area known to contain spiders, make sure you apply a good insect repellent. After a few hours, it is a good idea to reapply the repellent because it will begin to break down, especially when you sweat.
- Always wear gloves and tuck pant legs into your socks if you are going to be working in wood piles, dank sheds and basements where spiders love to hang out.
- Remove junk such tires, old furniture, discarded clothes and so forth to reduce places spiders like to hide.
- Always shake out your shoes and clothing before putting them on.
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Treating a Spider Bite at Home
The main issue with a common spider bite will be the itching is causes. As soon as possible, wash the area with soap and water. This should start to relieve some of the itchiness. For continued itching and irritation, follow these recommendations:
- Cover the bite area with cornstarch or baking powder.
- Apply some over-the-counter hydro-cortisone intended for dry, itchy skin.
- Soak the area in bath oils that are designed to relieve dry skin irritation.
- Use Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief if needed.
Continue to monitor the bite to ensure that it isn’t getting larger, or causing an allergic reaction in the victim. If you feel that the bite is more serious, contact a medical professional immediately.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you suspect the bite was caused by a black widow or brown recluse spider, you should seek professional medical attention immediately. Also, if the bite has triggered any signs of an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, abdominal pains or hives, then the victim needs medical care as soon as possible.
If there are no signs of an allergic reaction, but the bite area does not become noticeably better within 6-8 hours, or it develops red streaks or fever in the victim, it could be a sign of infection requiring medical aid.
Many experts advise to capture the spider responsible for the bite if at all possible. This will aid in identifying the type of bite and the treatment possibilities. However, if this cannot be accomplished safely, do not risk getting another bite. Just be prepared to give the medical staff as much information as possible.