Spider bites happen when a spider manages to pierce through the skin of a person. Spiders are arachnids that are related to mites and ticks. Only about 100 species of spiders worldwide are known to bite and more often than not, the bites are not dangerous. Two exceptions, however, are the black widow and the brown recluse, both of which are found in the US. If systemic symptoms occur after the bite of any spider, this is called arachnidism. If envenomation by a black widow in particular occurs, it is known as lactrodectism.
Spider Bites Description
Spider bites do not happen often. However, when they do, they are often very serious. The most serious of all bites are those delivered by the female black widow. She is found in various garden areas, loving to nest in leaves, woods, basements and more. Generally, bites occur when people accidentally squash her body, which is why the bites are common on fingers and toes. Black widows are most active in warm months and climates, which is when bites are most common.
The brown recluse is much less dangerous than the black widow, but it can still cause significant problems. Furthermore, the bite is incredibly painful. Very often, however, people don’t realize they have been bitten. Indeed, the spider lives up to its name of being a recluse, which is why bites are so rare. After a brown recluse bite, most people have a little bit of an itch. However, if skin reaction then appears, it can be incredibly painful and it is common for the area around the bite to swell and discolor. If this happens, emergency assistance is needed.
Spider Bite Symptoms
More often than not, people don’t realize they have been bitten, until they start to get significant abdominal pain and cramping. The abdomen will then start to become really hard, almost like a board, and the pain will become increasingly intense. Often, people find they have difficulty breathing and they start to grunt. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, twitching, sweating, tingling in the extremities and shaking are also common. One of the problems is that many people don’t recognize this as the result of a spider bite, also due to the fact that the bite is often not prominent at all.
How to Treat a Spider Bite
Treatment tends to depend on the type of spider and the type of reaction people experience. The black widow spider bite most commonly requires treatment.
• For the black widow, muscle relaxants and parenteral narcotics are often prescribed. Very often, calcium gluconate 10% is also prescribed, which is given intravenously. If the reaction is very severe, antivenin can be administered, although this is mainly done with the very young or old, or those who have a compromised immune system. Black widow antivenin comes from horse serum and is called lactrodectus. Patients usually require 2.5ml of it. It is very important to ascertain that an allergic reaction to horse serum will not take place, however.
• With the brown recluse, the worst type of reaction tends to be local necrosis. This is why the recommendation is for the bite area to be excised, although some doctors opt for oral corticosteroids. Some chemical substances, most notably colchicine and dapsone have also shown to be effective.
If the spider bite was delivered by a different spider, most people have no other symptoms than a spider bite blister. This should generally be left at home. In terms of do it yourself spider bite first aid, sting and bite creams can be beneficial. It is very important to monitor the affected area, however, just in case an allergic reaction does take place.