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Spider bites are rare, usually harmless, and do not always require medical attention. Some home remedies that might help include turmeric paste and aloe vera.
Although some spider bites can be extremely painful and require medical treatment, most just cause a mild stinging sensation. In these instances, washing the bite with soap and water before applying ice can help with the pain.
Continue reading to learn more about different types of spiders, how to handle a bite, and some useful home remedies to try.
- Stay calm.
- Clean the bite area with soap and water, then pat it dry with a clean towel.
- If possible, elevate the bite above the heart to help with blood flow.
- Apply an icepack to the bite to reduce pain.
- If the pain persists, take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever, such as ibuprofen.
- Taking an antihistamine might be helpful for itchy bites.
Bites from nonvenomous spiders rarely need medical attention. As mentioned above, people can often relieve the symptoms of a nonvenomous spider bite with:
- an icepack
- an OTC pain reliever
- an antihistamine
Some natural remedies may help with treating a spider bite at home. At present, scientific evidence to support their use in healing wounds is limited, but their use is likely to be safe if people wish to try them. These include:
One review study indicates that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that could provide symptom relief.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) state that, at present, there are no strong studies to support claims that compounds with turmeric can help with inflammation.
Turmeric is available in a variety of forms, including capsules and powder. A person can make turmeric powder into a paste and apply it to the bite.
Historically, many people have used aloe vera to treat wounds. However, the NCCIH state that, at present, there is not enough high-quality scientific evidence to support the use of aloe vera to heal wounds.
If someone wishes to try this remedy, they can apply an aloe vera gel directly on to the bite and surrounding skin.
If a poisonous spider bites a person, they must follow the same immediate steps as above, but may also require medical attention. Contact a doctor or poison control center as soon as possible.
Infants, children, and pregnant women should always seek emergency care for a venomous spider bite.
Symptoms of a venomous spider bite may include a red mark or small pimple-like bump. There will usually be pain and swelling at the wound. The bite may also feel itchy.
In some cases, venomous spider bites can cause more severe symptoms. These include:
- pus coming from the bite with redness spreading outward
- flu-like symptoms such as tiredness or fever
- severe muscle or stomach pain
- dead tissue forming around the bite, known as necrosis
Necrosis may happen within days after the bite and can last for weeks or months.
Symptoms can be more severe in infants and children. For example, they could experience weakness, joint pain, and seizures, depending on which spider bit them.
Death from venomous spider bites is rare but can occur, especially if the person does not seek treatment.
Medical treatment for a spider bite depends on the type of spider. It typically involves cleaning and elevating the wound, using cold packs, and a tetanus vaccination booster.
The doctor will check for signs of infection and necrosis. Prescription antibiotics may be necessary if an infection develops.
Depending on the spider, children, pregnant women, and older adults may require antivenom treatment. People with severe symptoms should also take antivenom treatment.
When to see a doctor
Anyone who has been bitten by a venomous spider should contact a doctor for treatment. Contact emergency services for any bites that occur with the following symptoms:
- significant bite pain that worsens or lasts more than 2 days
- pus coming from the wound
There are over 40,000 species of spiders worldwide, but only a minority bite human skin. Three venomous spiders live in the United States:
- Black widow — a black spider with two triangular marks that forms a reddish hourglass shape down its back. It is the most venomous spider in the United States.
- Brown recluse — a brown spider with a dark violin-shaped marking on its head. It has six, rather than eight eyes.
- Tarantula — a hairy spider with a 3-inch brown or black colored body. In the U.S., tarantulas live in the southwestern States.
Most spiders are not usually aggressive. Most bites occur when people accidentally disturb a spider, or the spider feels threatened. For example, a bite may occur when putting on clothes or shoes with spiders in them.
Typically, spiders stay out of sight, usually in dark crevices and covered areas. Ways to avoid being bitten by a spider include:
- checking for spiders before lifting logs or rocks from a pile
- wearing long sleeves and gloves for yard work
- avoiding accumulating piles of debris in the yard
- keeping garages, attics, and basements clean
- getting rid of empty cardboard boxes
- placing glue traps near baseboards or behind doors
- sealing off any cracks or crevices around the home
Spider bites are rare and generally harmless. Most people will experience some mild pain and a slight redness around the bite. Only a handful of spiders around the world can cause significant harm to humans.
Emergency treatment is necessary for spider bites that cause severe symptoms.
SHOP for nonvenomous bite remedies
The remedies for nonvenomous spider bites mentioned in this article are available to purchase in stores and online: