How to Identify and Treat Spider Bites

May 7th 2016

Consult with your doctor if the bite does not go away within seven to 10 days. A doctor may recommend a tetanus shot if you have not had your tetanus booster within the last five years, or he may administer an anti-venom shot if you were bitten by a poisonous spider.

Clean the Wound

Wash the bite with mild soap and water after you first notice the spider bite. Mild soap includes hand soap, dishwashing soap, baby soap or bath soap. Water does not have to be a particular temperature. Remove any dirt and grime away from the wound if you were outside.

Reduce Swelling

Apply a cold pack directly to the wound to reduce swelling and alleviate pain from the bite. A wet cloth with cold water could suffice, or you can use an ice pack from the freezer. Put a few ice cubes into a plastic zipper bag and apply them to the spider bite. Your cold pack can come from any source.

Lotions to Ease Itching

Cover the bite with calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to lessen any itching, burning or pain. Buy these types of creams in the pharmacy section of your chain retail store, or look for them in the first aid section of a national pharmacy retailer. Spread the lotion over the bite with a cotton swab or other kind of application device.

Cover with an Adhesive Bandage

Cover the bite with an adhesive bandage to help prevent you from scratching the wound. Take care not to scratch the bite, or it may open and become infected later if you do not care for the bite properly. The sterile pad portion of the bandage goes over the wound, while the sticky portion adheres to the skin on either side. Remove the bandage after any itching and swelling go away, or take the bandage off after the skin absorbs the lotion completely. The reason you remove the bandage is so you can monitor the bite for any changes.

Reduce the Itch Further

Reduce the itch further by taking antihistamines that contain diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine maleate. If you applied hydrocortisone cream to the wound, you should not take a diphenhydramine medication orally. Similar to anti-itch creams, you may find these substances in the pharmacy section of a national retailer.

Elevate the Bite

Elevate the bite if it occurs on your arms or legs. This helps reduce the swelling. Lay down and prop your feet up on some pillows if the bite appears on your legs. Raise your arm above your head for wounds on the arms.

Observe the Bite

Observe the bite for any signs of infection. These symptoms may include color changes and an increase in size. See your doctor if you develop serious symptoms, such as an allergic reaction, sweating or intense burning.

Conclusion

Most spider bites appear similar to normal insect bites, and symptoms include redness, swelling, itching and mild pain at the site of the bite. As such, spider bites generally require a few mild treatments and monitoring to make sure nothing worsens. A simple treatment regimen, sometimes directed by a doctor, alleviates most symptoms of a spider bite.

Sources

MayoClinic.org "Spider bites: Treatment and drugs" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spider-bites/basics/treatment/con-20035307
MedicineNet.com "Spider bites (including black widow and brown recluse)" http://www.medicinenet.com/spider_bites_black_widow_and_brown_recluse/article.htm
LiveScience.com "Spider bites and bee stings: Symptoms and treatments" http://www.livescience.com/34798-bee-sting-spider-bite-treatment.html

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