Here's how to treat a black widow spider bite from Dr. James Hubbard, MD. Learn to spot symptoms and know where this spider likes to hide.
Colder temperatures mean spiders are headed indoors. In many parts of the country, that includes black widows. Here's how to treat a black widow bite.
Black Widows: Know Your Spider
Black widows typically have some sort of red marking on their abdomens, but not always. The marking is usually shaped like an hourglass. These spiders live under eaves and around undisturbed debris, woodpiles, porch furniture, barns, sheds and outhouses.
Signs and Symptoms of a Black Widow Spider Bite
If you get a black widow spider bite, you may experience some or all of these symptoms:
- painful bite (but not always)
- two tiny fang marks, possibly a little red mark, maybe some swelling (but sometimes there’s no evidence of the bite)
- muscle aches and cramping of the abdomen, back and extremities that can be severe
- increased sweating or salivation
- elevated blood pressure
- rarely, seizures or respiratory difficulties that can result in death, usually in children
- symptoms usually peak within about 12 hours but can continue for several days
How to Treat a Black Widow Spider Bite
- Apply cold packs to the bite area intermittently for five- to 10-minute intervals. (Place a cloth between the pack and the skin.)
- Call the regional poison control office for advice. Its number should be on your speed dial. Find the number for your regional office at www.aapcc.org.
- Seek medical care, if possible. There is an antivenom for those who develop severe symptoms.
- Wash the bite area with soap and water, and apply an antibacterial ointment.
- Take whatever you have for the pain. Often, strong narcotics are needed.
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