What To Do If You Get Bitten By A Black Widow Spider

by on April 26, 2010

The black widow spider is one of only a few poisonous varieties of spiders that live in the United States.  Like all spiders, ticks, mites, and scorpions, the black widow is a member of the arachnid family.  The black widow is roughly 1/2 inch long, has a shiny black body, with long legs, and the defining mark of the black widow, a red-orange or yellow hour-glass on the underside of the abdomen.  Black widow spiders are abundant in the western hemisphere and can be found in dark, damp places.  Their favorite places are storage sheds,  tree stumps, in stone walls, trash piles, wood piles, and under rocks.  If they come inside your house, they will go to dark places like garages, corners of closets, behind furniture, or inside shoes.  black widows, like most spiders, are shy by nature and bite only when sat on, trapped, smashed in a shoe, or accidentally touched.

A person who gets bitten by a black widow spider might not realize it right away, since the bite can sometimes feel like a tiny pinprick.   However, after 30 minutes or so, the area of the bite will become swollen and very painful.  Some people become achy all over their bodies.  Other symptoms that are common with a black widow bite include  nausea, vomiting, weakness, sweating, and headache.

If you believe that you have been bitten by a black widow spider, first wash the bite area well with soap and water.  Next, you will want to put an ice pack on the bite and elevate the area that has been bitten above your heart.  This will help to prevent the venom for spreading.  If it is possible, you should have an adult member of your household catch the spider.  It is fine if the spider is dead, as long as it is not smashed beyond recognition.  This should be done to make sure that you physician or hospital is sure that it was a black widow spider that bit you.

Physicians treat people who have been bitten by black widow spiders with medications that helps to relax the muscles and reduce pain.  Physicians occasionally give antivenon, an antidote to the venom in the spider’s bite, if someone who has been bitten has underlying medical issues or whose condition does not improve with the other administered medications.

The best plan is to avoid getting bitten in the first place.  If you store your shoes in the garage or a mud room, you should shake them out prior to putting them on.  If you are taking something out of storage in the attic or the basement, it is wise to always carefully shake the items out.  When working in the garden or around a pile of stacked wood, you should wear gloves.  When cleaning behind or under furniture, you should always look for spider before sticking your hand behind or under a piece of furniture.

Above all, it is very important to seek immediate medical attention if you or a member of your household has been bitten by a black widow.  If you do not seek medical help, there is a very good chance that you will die.

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Marie July 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Definitely good information to know. I live in Phoenix and had a bad black widow problem at my house for a while, then started having a pest control service out to the house and haven’t had any problems since. They say if you can keep smaller insects away you won’t attract as many larger ones, or big spiders I guess. Although I read that one of our hospitals received an experimental antivenin for black widow poison, but I hope that I will never need it and that the black widows keep away from my house for ever.

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