Spider Bite  

This Care Guide Covers:

  • Bite from a spider

If not, see these topics
View First Aid Advice
  • Advice for Shock:
  • Advice for Spider Bite
  • Advice for Black Widow Spider Bite:
  • Advice for Brown Recluse Spider Bite:

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Black Widow Spider
Black Widow Spider

Brown Recluse Spider
Brown Recluse Spider

When to Call Your Doctor

Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Passed out or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • Black or brown widow spider bite suspected (see FIRST AID)
  • Stomach pain, chest tightness or other muscle cramps
  • Bite pain is severe and not improved after using care advice
  • Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
  • You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
  • New redness starts more than 24 hours after the bite. (Note: Any redness in the first 24 hours is due to venom)
  • Over 48 hours since the bite and redness now becoming larger
  • Bite starts to look bad (such as skin damage, blister or purple color)
  • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
  • Non-serious spider bite
Causes & Health Information

Symptoms

  • Bite symptoms include redness, pain, swelling
  • Helpful if spider seen on the skin or around the child

Types of Spider Bites

Black Widow Spider Bite

  • A shiny, jet-black spider with long legs (total size 1 inch).
  • A red (or orange) hourglass-shaped marking on its under-side.
  • Causes immediate local pain and swelling.
  • Sometimes, you can see 2 fang marks at the bite site.
  • Severe muscle cramps (especially stomach cramps) occur within 1 to 6 hours. These last 24 to 48 hours.
  • Rarely causes death. (EXCEPTION: bitten by several spiders or small child is bitten)
  • Note: Many are dry bites because the fangs are small.
  • The brown widow spider is related to the black widow. It is found in southern US.
  • Brown widow spider bites are treated the same as black widow bites.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

  • A brown spider with long legs (total size 1/2 inch).
  • A dark violin shaped marking on top of its head.
  • Causes pain at the bite. Blisters form within 4 to 8 hours.
  • The center becomes bluish and depressed (crater-like) over 2 to 3 days.
  • Skin damage may require skin grafting in 10% of cases.
  • Other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, muscle pain can occur. No life-threatening symptoms occur.
  • Brown recluse spiders are hard to identify. If you can, bring the spider along in a jar.

Non-dangerous Spider Bites

  • More than 50 spiders in the U.S. have venom. Their bites can cause nonserious reactions. This includes pain or redness at the bite site.
  • The bites are painful and swollen. This lasts for 1 or 2 days. They can feel and look like a bee sting.
  • Some single, unexplained, tender bites that occur during the night are due to spiders.
CARE ADVICE FOR NON-DANGEROUS SPIDER BITES

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Most spider bites look and feel like a bee sting.
    • The main symptoms are pain and redness.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cleansing:
    • Wash the bite well with soap and water.
  3. Cold Pack:
    • For pain or swelling, use a cold pack. You can also use ice wrapped in a wet cloth.
    • Put it on the bite for 20 minutes.
  4. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
  5. What to Expect:
    • The swelling and pain lasts for 1 to 2 days.
    • It should not be any worse than a bee sting.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe bite pain lasts more than 2 hours after pain medicine
    • Stomach pains or muscle cramps occur
    • Bite pain lasts more than 2 days (48 hours)
    • Bite starts to look infected
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 9/1/2012

Last Revised: 1/29/2013

Content Set: Child Symptom Checker

Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.