What are Spider Bites?

A banana spider.
The bite of certain species of tarantula can be dangerous.
Those bitten by a Black Widow should seek immediate medical aid.
A venomous spider bite can cause fever.
Article Details
  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Spiders, like other insects, have the ability to bite. Rather than teeth, spiders have hollow fangs containing varying degrees of potent venom, which they instinctively use to kill their natural prey – mostly other insects. These bites on humans can occur when a human comes unknowingly into contact with certain spiders.

Since all spiders have the ability to bite, many people mistakenly assume any spider can bite them. However, most spiders’ fangs either too small or too delicate to break human skin. There are some exceptions, thus making spider bites a potential cause for concern.

Bites can occur from contact with numerous species and in many cases are classified as dry bites, or a bite when the spider is merely being defensive and injects no venom. Most bites are not harmful to humans and typical reactions are similar to other insect bites, including a small red or swollen bump accompanied by irritation or itching. Many people do not feel the bite and may not even notice a reaction. In rare cases, people may experience a more severe allergic reaction to a spider bite.

Ad

While the majority of spider bites are not harmful to humans, there are a few spiders throughout the world whose bites are considered dangerous. These spiders include the black widow, the recluse, the Brazilian wandering spider, funnel web spider, certain species of tarantulas, and sand spiders indigenous to parts of Africa. Those spiders with neurotoxic venom, including the widow, funnel-web, and wandering spiders are considered to pose the greatest threat, though there have been deaths reported with spiders containing both neurotoxic and necrotic venom.

Treatment for the majority of these bites is not all that different from other insect bites and includes thorough washing of the area to prevent infection, a cool compress to relieve pain and swelling, as well as the application of a topical analgesic. In the case of a venomous bite, swelling and redness may be accompanied by adverse reactions, such as muscle pain and immobility, severe swelling, fever, nausea, and death of surrounding tissue.

The majority of spider bites are insignificant and do not require medical attention. However, bites from spiders known to be potentially harmful to humans should receive immediate medical attention. There is anti-venom available to counteract neurotoxic venom from bites of known species, but it is important that the victim know what type of spider has bitten him or her. The potential for a serious or lethal reaction is greater in children and those people who may actually suffer from an allergy to specific venom.

Though the potential for harmful spider bites is slim, it is important to be cognizant of those spiders indigenous to your area that are considered dangerous and to be able to identify them. Keep in mind that spiders typically administer a single bite, not multiple bites, so if you find small, red and swollen bumps that are causing dermatological problems, your home may be infested with fleas, mites, or bedbugs rather than spiders.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Spotiche5
Post 2

@raynbow- Sometimes spider bites have a unique appearance, almost like two spots from tiny fangs. However, most of the time when someone is bitten by a spider, he or she doesn't know what kind of bug was the culprit.

If you have had an allergic reaction from a spider bite in the past, you should be careful in the event that you get a bite from any type of insect. However, you don't have to rush to hospital before observing your initial reaction.

Regardless of whether or not you know what type of insect or spider bit you, there are some steps you should take if you get a bite. First, clean it thoroughly with soap and water. Next, apply an antiseptic with a cotton ball or clean cloth. Finally, use an antibiotic ointment to prevent an infection.

If you do not have uncomfortable symptoms such as hives, nausea, headache, dizziness, or difficulty breathing within the next few hours, chances are you will be o.k. and won't have another allergic reaction. However, if in doubt, call your doctor to be sure that you are not in danger.

Raynbow
Post 1

I was wondering if there is a way to tell a spider bite from other types of insect bites. I had an allergic reaction to a spider bite in the past, and I want to be prepared if I ever get bit by a spider again. I've noticed that there seem to be a lot of spiders this season, so that is why I am particularly concerned now.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email