Black Widow Spider
- Bite from a spider
- 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 or 25 mm).
- 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 or 12 mm).
- 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.
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
CARE ADVICE FOR NON-DANGEROUS SPIDER BITES
- 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.
- Wash the bite well with soap and water.
- 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.
- Pain Medicine:
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
- What to Expect:
- The swelling and pain lasts for 1 to 2 days.
- It should not be any worse than a bee sting.
- 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
Author: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last reviewed: 9/1/2012
Last revised: 7/10/2013 5:14:14 PM