Spiders rarely bite humans and in fact, many presumed spider bites are usually those of another insect. In the United States, the majority of spider species are non-venomous and innocuous to humans. There are two prevalent species indigenous to the United States that have been linked to disease and rarely death, the black widow and the brown recluse spider. If possible, always save the spider for identification and bring with you when seeking medical treatment in the case that you may have a severe reaction to the bite.
How to Treat a Non-venomous Spider Bite
The symptoms of a noon-venomous spider bite are very similar to that of any insect bite and include swelling, itching, mild pain, and redness. You should treat a spider bite as you would any insect bite by keeping the area clean and trying not to scratch it. If you experience any swelling, place a cool compress or ice pack on the area to mitigate the swelling. Over the counter antihistamine may help to reduce swelling.
Pay close attention to any signs of allergic or severe reaction to the bite. These would include dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, chills, or a severe skin reaction.
How to Treat a Venomous Spider Bite
If you believe a venomous spider has bitten you, seek immediate medical attention. While waiting for medical attention you can try to slow the spread of the venom by tightly tying a bandage above the bite and elevating the extremity. Be careful not to stop the blood flow completely.
Black Widow Bite: The black widow spider injects a venomous neurotoxin that affects the nervous system. These bites may require an anti toxin.
Brown Recluse Bite: The brown recluse spider injects a venomous cytotoxin that kills tissue. There is no anti toxin for the bite, but medical professionals can help to reduce the tissue damage caused by the cytotoxin.
“Black Widow Bites.” eMedicineHealth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. www.emedicinehealth.com/black_widow_spider_bite/page6_em.htm.
“Spider bites: First aid – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-spider-bites/FA00048.
“Spiders.” New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. New York State, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ehs/ehsspid.shtml.