For most people with spider bites, including black widow and brown recluse spider bites, the following treatment measures are all that's required:
- Clean the bite with mild soap and water.
- Apply cold packs to the bite, to reduce pain and inflammation.
- If the bite is on an extremity such as an arm or leg, keep it elevated.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.
- Observe the bite for signs of infection.
Your doctor may also recommend a tetanus booster shot if you haven't had one in the last five years. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the bite becomes infected.
Black widow anti-venom
If a black widow bite is causing intractable pain or life-threatening symptoms, your doctor may recommend an anti-venom, which may be injected into a thigh muscle or given through a vein (intravenously). Anti-venom can cause serious allergic reactions, so it must be used with caution.
May 21, 2013
- Vetter RS, et al. Approach to the patient with a suspected spider bite: An overview. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 12, 2013.
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- Spider bites. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/bites_and_stings/spider_bites.html?qt=spider bites&alt=sh. Accessed March 14, 2013.
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- Venomous spiders. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/spiders. Accessed March 12, 2013.
- Vetter RS, et al. Bites of widow spiders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 12, 2013.
- Vetter RS, et al. Bites of recluse spiders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 12, 2013.
- Brown recluse spider. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/brown_recluse_spider.pdf. Accessed March 15, 2013.
- Auerbach PS, et al. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1678-8..00052-0&isbn=978-1-4377-1678-8&sid=1418655681&uniqId=405544036-3#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-1678-8..00052-0. Accessed March 15, 2013.