First Aid Survival

Dangerous Spider Bites and How to Treat Them

The world’s population of spiders is so huge it is almost unfathomable. There are 40,000 different species of them. Spiders exist on every continent and in every environment. Not only are they varied in size and specialties, they are numerous and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
While a great deal of spiders out there are totally harmless, there are also many spiders out there that are dangerous and capable of inflicting life-threatening wounds on humans and other animals. As with most things, while there is not a whole lot you can do to prevent the unknown and dangerous elements of a spider bite, you can be prepared. Here’s how…

Black Widow

Out of all the spiders around, the black widow is certainly one that gets a lot of attention when it comes to the danger factor and being bitten. A medium-sized spider, roughly half and inch long, the black widow is usually found in the southern United States. It can however be found in the north as well. Northern black widows have a row of red spots down the middle of their abdomens. Southern black widows have the traditional hour-glass red spot on their abdomen. Symptoms of a black widow spider bite start within 20 minutes to one hours after the bite. These symptoms include pain at the point of the bite, severe muscle cramping and abdominal pain. In worst cases, the bite can cause vomiting, dizziness, chest pain and breathing difficulties.
If bitten by a black widow and experiencing any of these more extreme symptoms, seek care immediately in the ER of your local hospital. The treatment of such symptoms is often beyond the scope of what a local urgent care center can provide. The antitoxin known as “antivenin” is likely the best cause of treatment.

Brown Recluse

Native to the Midwest and Southeast of the United States, these spiders are rare but pose extreme danger to humans. Brown recluse spiders are known for the characteristic of a violin-like pattern on the back of their thorax. They are not hairy, and have a yellowish, tan color on their bodies. Their legs are darker colored, ranging about one inch in length. While not naturally aggressive, the brown recluse will seek to make a home for itself in warm, dark and dry environments. Their venom is a collection of enzymes, which causes the destruction of cell membranes and eventually leads to necrosis. Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include sever pain at the bite site after approximately four hours, vomit, fever, and severe itching. Blistering, and skin necrosis is also a more advanced symptom of receiving a brown recluse bite. If you have been bitten by a brown recluse, you must seek immediate emergency care. You can apply ice to the swelling and wash the bite with soap and water, but this will not replace a visit to the ER. Take special care not to apply heat or hydrocortisone cream to the bite site.

Hobo Spider

The Pacific Northwest has its own special type of unfriendly arachnid, known as the hobo spider. This spider does not usually live indoors and is usually not aggressive unless cornered or trapped against a person’s skin. The hardest thing about identifying a hobo spider is truly identifying it. This is because they look a lot like other common house spiders. Hobo spiders have a body length of roughly ½-inch, and a leg span of two inches. Hobo spiders can run up to three-feet per second, however they are bad climbers. The bite of a hobo spider is often painless at the bite site. Symptoms of a hobo spider bite include blisters, dead skin, headaches, nausea and rapid heartbeat. Other more advanced symptoms include joint aches, abdominal pain, and hallucinations. Often times a bite from a hobo spider is not severe and can be treated by simply keeping the wound clean. In the event of severe symptoms, seeking an emergency room and asking for a tetanus shot is advised.

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