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If you believe you have been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse, seek medical attention immediately. This article details typical symptoms of envenomation but does not substitute for a medical professional’s advice or opinion.
Many factors influence a victim’s reaction to a spider bite: the location on the body that was bit, the amount of venom injected, the depth of the bite, the victim’s age, and a variety of other variables. Many times, the bite feels like a pin-prick and may not be noticed by the victim at all.
Black widow bites and brown recluse bites differ in symptoms. While we will list them in a minute, not that first aid for spider bites for both species are the same.
If safely possible, capture the spider for positive identification. Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water or antiseptic if available, to prevent secondary infection. An ice pack may be applied to alleviate pain and swelling.
Call the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222 or your family physician for information about treatment. First aid is limited help beyond preventing further infection.
If the victim is experiencing systemic (full-body) reactions, the victim should be hospitalized where a medical professional may administer appropriate care.
Black Widow Spider Bite Symptoms
Black widow venom is a neurotoxin, similar to a rattlesnake. It attacks the nervous system, causing systemic symptoms throughout the body. General symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Abdominal rigidity
- Lesion at the site of the bite
- Profuse sweating
Brown Recluse Bite Symptoms
Brown recluse venom has necrotizing enzymes. It destroys tissue and cells, causing local or systemic symptoms. It leaves decaying tissue in its wake. General symptoms include:
- Red, white, and blue lesion at the bite site
- Necrosis at the bite site