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Pictures, Symptoms, and Treatment of Black Widow Spider Bites

Updated on April 26, 2016

A black widow spider is a member of the Latrodectus family, a very harmful breed of spiders. A bite from a black widow can be a danger to the victim, uncommon it may be. Unlike from a bite of a non-poisonous spider, which can only result to mild swelling, local redness, and pain and can be relieved entirely in no time, a black widow spider bite can be treacherous as you could not imagine. This is a common bug in the United States of America, mostly found in the southern part and also in its outskirts. A number of cases have been reported for spider bites, specifically from black widows, in Australia and the U.S. But no reported cases have presented death as a result from the bite.

Symptoms

The bite from a female black widow spider, which contains neurotoxin, has been described as lethal but only in rare cases. Yes, we worry when we hear about a black widow spider is lurking somewhere in our vicinity. This is entirely because of what we usually hear of the effects of its bite and the notion it is being presented in the public. We have to identify the poisonous black widow initially. In order we could point out the causing agent of our dilemma. Remember that a female black widow is with a red hourglass symbol at the back of its belly.

Usually the reaction from a black widow spider bite differ from one person to another, it depends on how well defended you are. Children and elderly people are at most risk in having adverse reaction from the bite. But the first symptom that you would readily complain of after being bitten is acute pain.

Stages

These are the common manifestations after a black widow has bitten you and would progress within an hour or less after being bitten:

Local reaction

Initial reaction while the toxin invades the nerves. Our immune system tries to fight off the foreign material that is attacking our system.

  • Pricking pain on the site, sometimes unrecognizable.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Itching

Anaphylaxis

This is when the victim shows signs of allergic reaction. A body mechanism that serves as protection but exhibits different symptoms.

  • Rash formation/ hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

Systemic Reaction

Medical treatment is highly advised to patients who experience the following symptoms after a black widow spider bite. Usually, the toxin has spread and affected the entire body.

  • Abdominal pain/soreness – inducing nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle cramps, joint pain.
  • Irritability/restlessness/ feeling of malaise.
  • Sweating
  • Fever/chills
  • Change in blood pressure and heart rate (elevated).

Black Widow Spider Bite Pictures

Causes

The venom that this spider emits is neurotoxic. A black widow spider contains latrotoxin – that results to latrodectism (a syndrome that presents the same symptoms above). The adult female black widow, particularly, has a grave effect to the victim become it has a strangely large venom gland, that could store up a venom that could kill if left untreated. You can easily differentiate a female black widow from a male black widow. The distinction between the two is in color and size. The female widow is black with markings of red, while the male widow is brown or gray in color. The markings of a male widow are not red, but usually yellow or white. Male black widow spiders are considered harmless; entirely opposite to what a female black widow spider is.

Treatment

A black widow antiserum/antivenin has been developed because of the prevalence of black widow spider bites. So if possible, after being bitten by a lingering spider, one should catch it for identification. This treatment is derived from a horse serum that is particularly prepared to act on the venom. However, this antivenin is reported to have adverse effects. It provides risks such as severe allergic response. Close monitoring should be done and a follow-up check up is necessary for patients who had an antivenin shot. A self-limiting reaction from the antivenin should be assessed. The symptoms would include fever, pain in the joints and swollen lymph nodes.

When a suspected victim of a black widow spider is identified, we need to do our first aid assistance. First, one should not and never suck out the venom. Not only that this doesn’t work, this would only give trouble to the person initiating it. Cleanse the spider bite with soap and water. An antibiotic cream is a good choice of cleaning the wound. Since swelling and redness is an initial reaction of the body from the venom, application of an ice pack on the wound relieves these symptoms. Application of a topical steroid cream is necessary for relieving inflammatory reactions.

In critical cases, calcium gluconate is prescribed by the doctor to be given intravenously. This drug would counteract the effects of the toxin. Providing pain relievers is a help to the uncomfortable victim. Acetaminophen is a well-recommended drug for relieving pain. Muscle relaxants and antihypertensive drugs are given when the victim manifests symptoms that suggest use for these drugs.

In cases of hospitalization, we have to closely monitor the patient especially with systemic reaction. This can be life-threatening and we need to treat the patient by treating the presenting symptoms.

Prevent oneself from being bitten is a way of treating yourself. If you’re a black widow spider breeder, make sure you have the necessary precautions to avoid being poisoned. Be careful when you go to dark and old places that seem to be flooded with spider webs. We may never know that a black widow spider is currently residing in the area and is waiting for a victim. Make sure that you can identify too what a black widow spider is, so protocol treatment can be given. Once you have been bitten, perform the first aid care immediately. When the reaction from the bites comes to a severe state, consult the doctor or going to the emergency room is a must.

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    • profile image

      BrittneyForeman 5 months ago

      My sister in-laws might have got bit by a spider but not sure it's swollen really red and he says it makes her left arm hurt it's on the left side of her neck.

    • profile image

      Alexa 12 months ago

      I have a spider bite and I don't know what to do its not poisonous but it's SO ANNOYING and it itches and when I scratch it, it's so painful I put a bandaid on it to try and not scratch it but it's on my hand so it's hard

    • profile image

      Mac 2 years ago

      I'm just waiting for my spicy-sense to kick-in.....wait, did you hear that? It sounded like injustice!!

    • profile image

      Bobbie 3 years ago

      I don't know if you of those that said it doesn't hurt. I have had 3 children naturally and the pain from the black widow bite was the worst pain I have ever had. I'd rather of died from getting antivenin then deal with the pain!!!

    • profile image

      Darryl 3 years ago

      There are a lot of Widows in southern British Columbia black in the houses as well as brown in the forest , same potency just in suited to the forest environment . Many of those bitten are lucky the spider is low on venom or like a rattlesnake only suffer a defensive bite the venom is saved for prey not people . Many good YouTube videos on how hard it is to get a Widow to bite their main goal is escape .

    • profile image

      Kasie 4 years ago

      ive been bit by somethinh can't honestly say if it was or is a spider bite. Its on mu leg pretty itchy but ive had a good read which has been helpful

    • profile image

      Sharah 4 years ago

      I have been bit by a black widow doesn't hurt much

    • SavannahEve profile image

      SavannahEve 4 years ago from California

      Blech! Not the hub, the hub was very helpful and informative thank you. I've been bitten three times by the Widow and it is not enjoyable. I did find some information here I was not previously aware of, thank you!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Jeepers, I hope I never get bit by one of those! Great info.

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