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White Tail Spider Bite – Symptoms and Treatment

Updated on February 6, 2014

White tailed spiders are a species of spiders which are found in the eastern and southern parts of Australia. They are not too large or too small. They are referred to as white tailed spiders due to the presence of a whitish spot in the last section of their abdomen.Lampona murina and the Lampona cylindrata are the two most common species of white tailed spiders. Both these species have been introduced into different regions in New Zealand.

As opposed to other kinds of spiders, white tailed spiders do not spin a web to entrap their victims. Instead, they wander around in their habitat and find and hunt down the prey. They are venomous and also have a tendency to kill other types of spiders.

Many humans have suffered from white tail spider bites. The bite can result in a number of symptoms such as localized pain and swelling, occurrence of a reddened patch, irritation, and itching. Sometimes, additional symptoms such as headaches, malaise, nausea, and vomiting may also be noticed.

It was a widespread belief that white tailed spider bites resulted in development of ulcers and necrosis, i.e. gradual deterioration of the skin. A 2003 study carried out by Gray and Isbister has however proved this myth to be false.

Lampona murina and Lampona cylindrata, the two most common types of white tailed spiders are almost similar in appearance. As compared to Lampona murina, Lampona cylindrata is slightly larger in size. The male species of the latter can reach a full body length of about 12mm, while females can grow up to 18 mm. Their legs have a diametrical span of approximately 28 mm.

Both the types of this spider species have to be investigated under a microscope to get a clear differentiation. Both of them are quite slim and feature an elongated body that is either gray or dark reddish in color. The legs feature bands that are dark orange-brown in color. Two light white marks can also be observed on their abdomens. However, the primary characteristic is the prominent white mark present at the tip, just above the web-spinning gland.

The stark resemblance in the appearance of these two kinds of white tailed spiders has led to an incorrect belief that only one type occurs. Researchers also affirm that several other kinds of white tailed spider species are present, but they are not identified as yet. It is however accepted that all types are distinguished and classified as white tailed spiders by the striking white tip occurring at their abdominal ends. There are other distinct features that are present at birth, but which disappear during growth and shedding. The white tail however remains during the entire course of its life. The eggs of the Lampona cylindrata are pinkish in color. They are walled by a flattened silk enclosure and protected by the mother till they hatch.

As mentioned above, white tailed spiders do not spin webs. The ends of their legs have special hairs that allow them to crawl on evena glass surface. They are nocturnal creatures and generally hunt down other spiders, particularly the black house spider.

White tailed spiders can be noticed living inside homes, in gardens and leaf clusters, under rocks, and underneath the barks of trees. They can also be seen to inhabit in the folds of towels, clothes, and in shoes.Hence, they are most likely to come across humans, usually on the beds, inside closets, or ina towel rack. Since they roam from one place to another, the reported cases of white tailed spider bites in Australia are far greater than bites caused by other species of spiders. A study conducted in Australia to ascertain the percentage of white tailed spider bites has indicated that nearly sixty percent of all reported spider bites are caused by this species.

Symptoms of White Tail Spider Bites

Some of the signs and symptoms of white tailed spider bites are listed below:

  • White tailed spider bites are often noticed on the legs and arms
  • There may be localized redness that is accompanied by inflammation, pain, and itchiness of the affected skin area. The pain is however short-lived and fades away quickly
  • On occasions the location of the white tailed spider bite may elicit a reddish bump. Incessant scratching can cause the skin to tear up and result in an open wound which is then susceptible to secondary bacterial infections.
  • The bite can also be sometimes accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, nausea, mild illness, and headaches. These symptoms also vanish without treatment.
  • The venom of white tailed spiders is not potent. Hence, unlike the widespread myth, white tailed spider bites do not lead to development of ulcers or extensive skin damage.

Treatment of White Tail Spider Bites

White tailed spider bites do not result in any health complications. The symptoms may be treated in the following ways:

  • The site affected by the spider bite has to be thoroughly washed with soap and water
  • Local pain may persist for many hours, while minor swelling may last for a day or two. You can use non-prescription pain killers to alleviate the pain. Swelling and inflammation may be eased via use of topical corticosteroids. The pain and swelling can also be reduced by application of ice compresses after every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Itchiness and stinging sensations can be decreased by using anti-sting ointments. You may also apply an ice cube or a paste made from cold water and baking soda to the affected site. Doctors may also recommend antihistamines to find relief from itching.
  • A severe allergic reaction to spider bites called anaphylaxis is a life-threatening situation and requires emergency care. It can be identified by varied symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, swelling around eyes and lips, tightness in chest and/or throat, hoarse voice, rapid rash formation, fainting or dizziness, swallowing difficulties, persistent coughs or sneezing, high fever, and pale skin.

It is a good option to try to catch the spider and take it to the doctor for examination.

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      sls_one 3 years ago

      I hav e for the past year had what they Dr called excema and it has been itchy s bad thay I draw blood and then the sking breaks ot,This goes away after using paw paw cream daily nly to find I get a few red bumps that has puss in it and red aroud and sore,this is let out after a day or so,as it is throbbing and puss comes outs.At this time I now again have the same thing around the same area,lower mid on leg to my ankle that feel like I have elastic bands tied around both ankles and the feet swell the rash now is like the skin has been eaten away and it is today weepy s I have compression stockings on as th e pressure I feel is good..This has been like this for a year n and wonder what I have to do to get rid of it.The skin on my arms look like I have psorisis.help

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      Tehnay 3 years ago

      I have a white tail bite which is losing a lot of white puss and the doctor put me on distaph and said this should not hurt the baby. I don't want to hurt my baby is this gonna be a danger to my baby. I am near 19 weeks. Thank you

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      jameika 3 years ago

      This bite hurt

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      edwina 3 years ago

      suffering from a white tail spider bite does hurt!!! and you should see a doctor. I originally was under diagnosed the first time, a day later blister was 10x the size so after reexamination from a different doctor now I'm on antibiotic for infection, cortisol tablets and panadineforte it's been an hour since the nurse drain the blister and I'm not feeling the best but should in a couple of days. so take this bite seriously!!!

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      Sarah 3 years ago

      I don't know if it was a white-tail bite but think it was because most other spiders prefer not to bite & are likely to try to escape, rather than seek out contact. I know that the spider attached to the cuff of my trousers as l walked on the footpath (having seen them on the pavement in the morning, b4 the sun hits it & came from the wood chips that council use under roadside plantings) & crawled up the inside leg of my trousers. At some point when l sat down it bit me on the back of my thigh, where a seats edge would come to & l hope that killed the little bugger. I didn't even kno l'd been bitten until later that evening when the heat of the shower aggravated it, although l did feel a tickle on the back of my leg as l walked earlier & flicked at my leg in response but didn't feel a bite as such. That evening, after my shower when l realized l'd been bitten, l inspected the bite & washed the area with hot salty water. It was red & swollen & around 6cm across with a dozen or more little white blisters clustered together at the center approx 1.5cm across. I was bitten on a Thursday & thought if l just looked after it, treated it with hot salty water, that it would be ok. So Friday passed & it got worse & then it was the weekend & no doctor available. By Monday the area of the bite had blackened & the bite was infected....the doctor gave antibiotics & it cleared up. Since then, over the last 2 years, l have had ulcer-like lesions a few of times over where the lymph nodes are on the groin & l know these are from no other cause. I also had pain in my knees when bending them & the tubes of the lymph were hardened. These after-effects are only now lessening.

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      Anthony 2 years ago

      Have been bitten about 5 times by this spider. Every time the area is itchy for first 12 to 24 hours with tiny non red bump. Then gets hot and a blister forms about the size of a $2 coin and raised hemispherical. Later it begins localised swelling. After two to three days have experienced joint pain and shivers. Often when the blister bursts from the pressure it will weep constantly for days. Best treatment I can recommend is ice pack. Start as early as possible and for as long as possible( even stayed all night applying ice compress). Unfortunately in my case it's left a dark patch of 'scarring' the same size as blister. They bite whilst you are asleep as well.

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      roy 2 years ago

      i was bitten repeatedly on my left foot particularly on the sole that was 8 years ago since then my foot itches nearly all the time i get blisters on all the pressure points on my left foot these cause extreme itching until the blisters reach a certain point i then have to pierce them and drain the fluid inside to get some relief i have tried various remedies but still suffer daily if any one has any ideas of how to deal with this nightmare please share rgds Roy royieraci@hotmail.com

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      Bob 2 years ago

      Nasty things. I was bitten on the lip with no real pain for the first 2 days. Started swelling on the 3 day. Day 4 ended up with all my bottom teeth aching so went to the hospital and got sent home by the doctor, he told me I had herpes. Later that night couldn't handle the pain so went back to hospital and they finally diagnosed it as a white tail bite. Spent 5 days in hospital on morphine. If you suspect a bite go to the doctor and tell them because every bite is different.

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      Ian 18 months ago

      I was bitten by a White tail approx 4 years ago. The soreness lasted for a few days. approx 18 months ago the swelling etc reappeared after being bitten by a mosquito in the same area, my foot was swollen so much I couldn't put on my work boots, so I stopped at Norwest hospital on my way home. They put me into an isolation ward & on a drip for 24 hours. eventually it went away.

      It reappeared last again week & now have blisters & peeling skin on my foot & is very sore & itchy. I was told the venom stays in you for life & can continually reappear, as in my case. Is there any solution?

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      Joedy 16 months ago

      My son was bitten by a white tail spider 2 weeks ago, the write up is not exactly right as my sons bite swelled up straight away and had ulcers and blisters the area was the size of a tennis ball. He was admitted to hospital for 4 days.

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