Spider Bite? When to Call the Doctor

Spider Bite? When to Call the Doctor

(HealthyResearch.com) – It can happen in a moment and you might not even be aware when it happens: a spider bite. But there’s a red welt that’s itching and becoming painful. You might be wondering what you should do.

Most spider bites don’t require medical attention. Symptoms usually resolve within a few minutes to one hour. In rare cases, however, you may need to seek medical attention for a serious reaction or infection caused by a spider bite.

Seek Help for These Symptoms

In most cases, you will likely not see the spider that bit you or be able to identify it. Fortunately, you can still determine when to seek medical care by evaluating your symptoms.

Any symptoms that correspond with a venomous spider, allergic reaction or localized infection are cause for concern. These include:

  • Worsening symptoms that don’t clear up after 24 hours
  • Redness spreading away from the bite
  • Drainage from the site
  • Increasing pain
  • Numbness, tingling or discoloration at the site
  • The appearance of a halo or bull’s eye around the bite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Heat and swelling at the site
  • Fever

Pay attention to your symptoms. If they are improving, you’re on your way to recovery. If they are getting worse, you should seek care immediately. While it’s important not to overreact, it’s also important not to ignore your symptoms.

Always Call for These Spider Bites

In the United States, there are two main venomous spiders to watch out for: black widows and brown recluse spiders.

  • Black Widow — Identified by a red pattern on the underside of their abdomen, black widows live in the southern and western regions of the country. They like to remain hidden — under woodpiles, eaves, fences and debris — and do not go after humans. They will, however, bite if you come into direct contact with their web.
  • Brown Recluse — Brown in color with a violin-shaped marking on their head, brown recluse spiders live in the midwest, southern and northeastern regions of the country. They like to hang out in dry, sheltered places, but brown recluses can wander indoors and lurk in closets, linens, attics and shoes. They cannot bite you unless you apply counter pressure to them, such as bump into one or roll over onto one.

Bites from these spiders always require some sort of medical attention. If you believe you’ve been bitten by one of these spiders, call your local emergency care center for instructions.

If possible, collect the spider that bit you and take it with you to the emergency room. This will help your medical team correctly identify the spider and determine an appropriate treatment course.

What to Do Before Going to a Doctor

Your spider bite and symptoms should be treated before you go to the doctor. Be sure to clean the site of the bite with warm water and soap. Elevate the affected area and apply a cool compress. If you believe a venomous spider was involved, apply a snug bandage above the bite to keep the venom from spreading. Be careful not to cut off circulation. You may also take medication for your symptoms. Acetaminophen or aspirin can be used for pain and fever, and antihistamines are ideal for mild allergic reactions.

You won’t need to seek medical attention if you aren’t bitten by a venomous spider, having an allergic reaction or experiencing infection at the bite site. It’s possible to treat your spider bite at home with antihistamine, ice packs and antibiotic ointment. If you have any doubts about your symptoms, call your doctor or nurse hotline to help you decide your next steps.

~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!

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